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Middle East -Syria: How Putin blindsided the US over Syria - by Jon Sopel

They have consistently made clear their support for President Assad. It was hardly a great secret that they had moved military assets into Syria - and the Russian pilots hadn't flown their fighter aircraft over to the Eastern Mediterranean to earn some extra air miles.

President Vladimir Putin had a meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday night to explain what Russia's plan was - and although there were profound differences, US officials said they understood better what Russia's intentions were.

And yet. - Isn't there something totally jaw-dropping, gob-smacking, eyebrow-arching, ear twitchingly extraordinary - and not to mention, casual - about the way the Americans learnt about Russian plans?

It began with a phone call from a Russian diplomat to his counterpart in Baghdad to say "we've got something interesting to tell you".

Then a three-star Russian general leaves the Russian embassy compound and knocks on the door of the American one, and asks to see the US military attache.

He tells the American military man that bombing starts in an hour, so you'd better get out of Syrian airspace now and move any assets you have off the ground. And 60 minutes later, the bombing started.

Wow. To say the Americans were blindsided by this unorthodox line of communication is to put it mildly. Having had their "clear the air" meeting on Monday night there was an anticipation that though there might be big policy differences, there would be a degree of co-ordination and openness.

Read more: How Putin blindsided the US over Syria - BBC News

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