Washington (AFP) - The Pentagon urged Russia to keep military channels open Friday after Moscow said it was going to hang up a vital hotline established to avoid mishaps between the two powers in Syria.
The so-called deconfliction line has been a lifesaving -- albeit imperfect -- tool since it was set up soon after Russia entered Syria's civil war in late 2015 to prop up President Bashar al-Assad.
Even though the US military used the line to warn Russia of the impending missile strike on an Assad air base near Homs early Friday, a furious Moscow reacted to the attack by its ally by saying it would no longer cooperate with the Americans.
"The Russian side is halting the effect of the memorandum for prevention of incidents and ensuring safety of air flights during operations in Syria which was agreed with the US," the Russian foreign ministry said.
Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said he hoped Russia would reconsider.
"The Department of Defense maintains the desire for dialogue through the flight safety channel," he said.
"It is to the benefit of all parties operating in the air over Syria to avoid accidents and miscalculation, and we hope the Russian Ministry of Defense comes to this conclusion as well."
A senior US military official said the deconfliction line remained open as of noon Friday and had been used by US and Russian officials since the US strike on a Syrian regime airfield.
"There is no variation of the deconfliction line or deconfliction coordination with the Russians," the official said.
The hotline was established between US officers monitoring the war from an operations center at a base in Qatar and their Russian counterparts operating in Syria.
The link is a regular phone line staffed on the US side by a Russian-speaking colonel and has been used daily since its inception.
Moscow's move to abandon the hotline could dramatically raise the risk to pilots and ground forces on all sides.
It was used in February to stop a Russian strike on US-backed fighters in several small villages in northern Syria after the Russian pilots apparently mistakenly thought Islamic State group forces were in the area.