US forces, who were a few miles away and acting as advisers to the Syrian fighters, called in the information and the Russians halted the airstrikes, Townsend said.
The latest near miss occurred near the city of al Bab, just northeast of Aleppo, which Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies recently took from ISIS, leaving them in a staredown with Syrian regime forces who site just south of the city.
"Some quick calls were made to our deconfliction channels and the Russians acknowledged and stopped bombing there".
An image taken from video footage and released by Russia's Defense Ministry on August 18, 2016, shows a Russian fighter-bomber dropping bombs in Syria.
Neither Russian nor Syrian air forces had bombed positions of Syrian Arab coalition fighters supported by Washington in Syria on Tuesday, Russia's Defense Ministry has said, rejecting accusations put forward by a USA military commander. The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces are now converging on the city from the north and the west.
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The U.S. troops observed the airstrikes and notified higher command to contact the Russians under an arrangement to "deconflict" U.S. and Russian operations in Syria, he said in a briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon. "The ISIS fighters withdrew, and the [SDF] advanced into those villages", he said.
Townsend said the incident illustrates how complicated the battlefield has become near al-Bab, which is less than 20 miles from the Turkish border in northwest Syria and was seized from the Islamic State by Turkish-backed forces last month.
The Russian officials acknowledged that they shared a conversation with their USA counterparts through the communications channel opened in 2015 that the two nations use to deconflict operations in Syria. Russia, Turkey, the US and other countries are backing surrogate forces inside Syria, which has been in a civil war since 2011.
"To avoid any incidents, the United States representative has provided exact coordinates of the US-backed opposition forces in the region to a Russian officer", the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the information was "taken into account" by the Russian military.
Turkey has moved into northern Syria and is battling IS while also trying to keep US-backed Kurdish forces in check. -Russian military communications link set up during the Obama administration was used in response to the airstrikes that hit US partner forces Tuesday. While the 50,000-strong force faces "the problem of supply, the problem of training, and problems of positioning the force", those things can be worked out fairly rapidly, "if we get the authorities we need" from Washington, he said.