U.S. defense officials say the U.S. has asked Russia to avoid airstrikes in an area of northern Syria where American special operations forces have been working with Syrians fighting the Islamic State group.

The U.S. request was disclosed Thursday by Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander of U.S. air forces in the Middle East.

Brown says that in making the request, U.S. officials did not pinpoint the U.S. troops' location but did ask that Russian strike aircraft avoid broad areas.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook says the request was made directly from the Defense Department to the Russian Ministry of Defense, but he isn't saying when it came.

Cook says the Russians have honored the request so far.