The commander in charge of U.S. air operations in the Middle East says the United States and Russia have communicated more via an established military hotline as the airspace around Islamic State territory in Syria has become more crowded.

“We have had to increase the amount of deconfliction work we are doing with the Russians, given the tighter airspace that we are now working ourselves through,” Air Force Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters Wednesday.

The communication hotline was created between Russia and the U.S. several months ago to avoid misunderstandings or unintended incidents in the sky over Syria.

Harrigian confirmed the U.S. has established deconfliction zones around U.S. military personnel inside Syria, adding that Russian movement within these areas is restricted to protect American and U.S.-backed forces.

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