Russian jet flies within feet of United States plane over Baltic Sea

Frederick Owens
June 21, 2017

The activist-run Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that government troops captured a hill west of the city and a former army base that was held by rebels. The guarantor countries - Russia, Iran and Turkey - are expected to consider documents concerning various aspects of the Syrian de-escalation zones, as well as discuss steps which need to be taken to ensure unhindered humanitarian access and restore infrastructure facilities.

These battles are critical for Syria's future, Abdullah said, noting they will force the negotiate with the Assad government.

The Syrian government said the truce was part of national reconciliation efforts.

Coalition forces are using the Al-Tanaf base by Syria's borders with Jordan and Iraq to train anti-jihadist Syrian fighters and stage attacks against IS.

During a six-week deployment earlier this year, a Dutch plane refueled 189 coalition plans.

The U.S. military said it shot down an Iranian-made, armed drone in southern Syria on Tuesday, marking the third time this month that that the U.S. has downed aircraft affiliated with Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

The incident comes amid increased tensions between Russian and the United States following the shoot-down Sunday of a Syrian fighter jet by a U.S. Navy Super Hornet after the Syrians bombed U.S. -backed fighters in northern Syria.

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On Monday, Russia's defense ministry effectively drew a line across Syria west of the Euphrates River, saying that "all kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the global coalition. will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets".

The ministry also called on the US military to provide a full account of why it made a decision to shoot down the Syrian SU-22.

Russian Federation said on Monday it would treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates in Syria as potential targets and track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

The repeated incidents in the vicinity of the Tanf camp, where US forces train and advise local ground forces in the fight against IS, add to soaring regional tensions that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the extremists enters a crucial phase, with USA -backed forces pushing into the group's de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The ministry says it views the incident as Washington's "deliberate failure to make good on its commitments" under the de-confliction deal.

The United States is aggressively backing a Syrian rebel alliance - the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - as they fight their way into Raqqa, ISIS' administrative capital for the past three years. In late 2015, it extended air operations into Syria on US' request.

In April 2016, the pattern included Russian Su-24s zipping no more than a few hundred feet by the USS Donald Cook, a Navy destroyer, "dangerously close" to the ship, US officials said.

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