WATCH: U.S. Central Command General McKenzie speaks on Russian troop movement

WASHINGTON — There have been no indications that Russia is moving troops out of Syria to bolster its forces in Ukraine, or that any more than a few Syrian fighters have been recruited to join the war, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said Friday.

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Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters that he has seen little change in Russian military activities in Syria. And he added that the U.S. military still has and uses a deconfliction phone line with the Russians in Syria, in contrast to the mixed success the U.S. has had in maintaining such contact in connection with the Ukraine war.

“We can always contact them if we have a problem. They’ll always pick up the phone, and we feel that we respond in kind to them,” said McKenzie about the Russians, whose forces in Syria support the regime of President Bashar Assad. “That relationship has been very, very professional.”

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McKenzie, who is retiring after three years at the head of U.S. Central Command, said he also has seen no indication that Russia is moving any troops or assets from Syria or central Asian countries such as Tajikistan, to Ukraine. And he said he also has seen no evidence that “the temperature is rising” between Russia and the U.S. in Syria as a result of the Ukraine war.

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