Russia Draws A Line Across Syria After US Shoots Down Syrian Jet

Patrice Gainsbourg
Junho 20, 2017

Russia's defense ministry said Monday that military aircraft flown by the USA -led coalition over Syrian government-controlled areas west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as potential targets.

The Russian defence ministry went on to say in a statement that all aircraft belonging to the USA -led coalition operating west of the Euphrates "will be tracked by the Russian (surface-to-air missile) systems as targets".

An American F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday evening as it "dropped bombs" near a US-backed alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are fighting IS, according to the Pentagon.

Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by IS before Syrian government forces captured majority in recent months.

One such aircraft shot down a Syrian Su-22 that the US accused of bombing Islamic State militant group (ISIS) positions too close to local USA -backed fighters.

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 downing of the warplane is the first time in the conflict that the USA has shot down a Syrian jet.

The downing of the jet and Russia's response came as the US-led coalition and allied fighters battle to oust the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group from its Syrian bastion Raqa.

These have included several air strikes against pro-government forces that have sought to advance towards a US base in southeastern Syria near the border with Iraq, where the USA military has been training Syrian rebels to fight IS.

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It said that "pro-Syrian regime forces" had earlier attacked an SDF-held town south of Tabqa and wounded a number of fighters, driving them from the town.

The SDF claimed that the Syrian government forces have recently been "mounting large-scale attacks" on their positions near Raqqa.

"This strike has to be seen as a continuation of America's line to disregard the norms of worldwide law", Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told journalists in Moscow, reported Russian state news agency TASS, according to Agence France-Presse.

Dunford said the incident occurred within the worldwide laws of war, as an effort to protect coalition forces who are focused on fighting ISIS.

The newly elected Liberal government withdrew the CF-18s the following year, but kept the other planes in the region to continue supporting fighter jets from the USA and other allied countries.

"The Russians clearly are doing a lot of sabre rattling right now, but the reality is that the United States has significantly superior air power in the region, and it would be extremely foolish for the Russians to pick a fight with the United States in Syria", said Nile Gardiner, an global affairs expert at the Heritage Foundation think tank. "We call on everybody to avoid unilateral actions, to respect - I stress once again - Syria's sovereignty and to join our work which is coordinated with the Syrian government".

"What was it, if not an act of aggression?" It also issued what appeared a threat to target USA coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River.

The Pentagon statement added: "The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-Isis (IS) operations will not be tolerated". The attack drove the SDF from Ja'Din, which is west of Raqqa, the coalition statement said. Coalition aircraft stopped the pro-regime forces from advancing on Ja'Din.

On Sunday, Tehran for the first time fired missiles from its territory against IS positions in Deir Ezzor.

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