Russian diplomat condemns USA for downing Syrian fighter jet

Russian diplomat condemns USA for downing Syrian fighter jet

Russian diplomat condemns USA for downing Syrian fighter jet

Russian Federation on June 19 warned it would track US -led coalition aircraft in central Syria as "targets" and halted an incident-prevention hotline with Washington after U.S.forces downed a Syrian jet.

Russia's defence ministry on Monday condemned the United States downing of a Syrian plane and said it would now track all coalition flights west of the Euphrates river, while suspending its use of a military hotline for avoiding incidents in Syrian airspace. According to the ministry, at the moment the Syrian warplane was hit by the USA fighter, Russia's Aerospace Forces were carrying out missions in Syria's airspace; "However, the coalition command did not use the existing communication line between the air commands of Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar) and Khmeimim Air Base to prevent incidents in Syria's airspace".

The United States will continue to conduct air operations over Syria, a spokesman for the US-led task force that is fighting the Islamic State said overnight. The Syrian jet was shot down on June 18 evening after regime forces engaged members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance battling with US support against ISIL, in an area close to Raqqa.

The U.S. needs now to delineate the lines of advance for Syria's Kurds, and to talk to the Russians, Syrians and Iranians. US-backed forces have encircled the city of Raqqa and captured several districts from ISIL fighters.

A USA military official has brushed off Russia's warnings that it will track planes in Syria with anti-aircraft batteries, following the U.S.'s downing of a Syrian Su-22 bomber.

Damascus stated that the plane was carrying out operations against Islamic State terrorists when it was downed. This was the first time that the USA has itself engaged in air-to-air conflict with Syrian aircraft since it joined the fight against the Islamic State in 2014. And until now the overarching United States guiding principle has been to avoid such direct conflict with Assad forces on the ground - at almost all costs.

"We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened", Capt. Jeff Davis told Fox News.

The "flagrant attack was an attempt to undermine the efforts of the army as the only effective force capable with its allies... in fighting terrorism across its territory", it said.

The American military does not take such things lightly and so for the first time in this long and bloody war struck back by downing a Syrian bomber. On June 8, USA officials have reported that a drone likely connected to Iranian-supported Hezbollah forces fired on US -backed troops.

The U.S. took the action in retaliation to what they believe was a "pro-Syrian regime forces" attack on the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Air strike operations into Iraq are unaffected.

These incidents, however, are tactical, not part of any US strategy in Syria, analysts said.

Thomas said the new powers would not have played any role in the recent decisions to attack pro-regime forces, as these were all ordered in self-defense.

The incident is seen as the latest skirmish between the US-led coalition and regime forces in Syria's northern and eastern region. Syrian Democratic Forces rumbles through the Raqqa area on Sunday.

"The coalition is always available to deconflict with Russian Federation to ensure the safety of our aircrews and operations", Dillon said.

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