Russian Federation warns US-led coalition fighting in Syria

Frederick Owens
June 20, 2017

Tensions are escalating in Syria after the American military shot down a Syrian combat jet for the first time and Russian Federation announced, in retaliation, that it will treat "all flying objects" from the US-led coalition as "targets" in some parts of the strife-torn West Asian nation.

"The regime's forces have mounted large-scale attacks using planes, artillery, and tanks since June 17", Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Talal Selo said in a statement.

The Russian threat on Monday to target with anti-aircraft missiles any USA aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria is part of the same intimidation strategy.

Moscow has said it is suspending a military hotline - called the "deconfliction line" - established with the USA in 2015, weeks after Russian Federation entered Syria in support of the government of Bashar al-Assad, its strongest ally in the region.

USA -backed opposition fighters said Assad's forces have been attacking them in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action.

Russian Federation has been providing air cover for Syrian president Bashar Assad since 2015 while the coalition has been bombing Islamic State (IS) targets since 2014, sometimes alongside regime forces. Dunford said Monday, June 19, 2017, that Washington and Moscow are in delicate discussions to tamp down tensions arising from the USA shootdown of a Syrian fighter jet, which the Russians called a violation of a U.S. The cause then was the US missile strikes on Syria in response to Assad's deadly chemical attack in the country's Idlib province.

Fighter jet. Picture: Facebook.

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The new clash comes two months after the USA launched a barrage of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase that had hosted airplanes responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Idlib province.

Adding to the region's instability, Iran launched a barrage of missiles on Sunday into eastern Syria as retaliation for ISIS's twin attacks in Tehran earlier this month.

The US military later said it was seeking to re-establish the hotline.

The move, the Times noted, marks "the first time the American military has downed a Syrian aircraft since the start of the civil war in 2011".

It also raised questions about how U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, which had previously put Iran "on notice" for its ballistic missile tests, will respond.

Both sides are battling the Islamic State group, with SDF fighters focusing on their march into the northern city of Raqqa, which the extremist group has declared to be its capital.

"If the regime continues attacking our positions in Raqqa Province, we will be forced to retaliate ... and defend our forces", Selo said.

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