Coalition aware of Russian comments on communication channel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A spokesman for the U.S-led coalition fighting Islamic State said on Friday that he was aware of reports that Russia intended to suspend a communication channel with the United States for avoiding air accidents over the skies of Syria.

A Russian foreign ministry statement had said that Moscow was suspending an air safety agreement with the United States originally drawn up to ensure that the two countries' planes did not collide. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters separately that Russia would keep military channels of communication open with Washington, but would not exchange any information through them.

Initially, coalition spokesman U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian had said in an emailed statement that Russia had communicated their intent regarding the channel, but later corrected himself to say that he was aware of the reports.

(This version of the story corrects headline and first paragraph after spokesman says he was aware of reports, not that Russians had notified the coalition)

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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