Australia suspends air strikes in Syria after US downing of Syrian jet
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 20, 2017,
Jun 20, 2017, 16:28
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 Pentagon issued a statement: "The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat".
Following Russia's warning that it will view USA warplanes as targets if they fly west of the Euphrates river, the USA military has justified shooting down a Syrian warplane on Sunday as an act of self-defence.
"As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased", the military said.
The U.S. says it downed a Syrian military jet on Sunday because the aircraft had dropped bombs near the U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against the Islamic State group.
The announcement by Russia's Ministry of Defense comes one day after a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22. The cause then was the US missile strikes on Syria in response to Assad's deadly chemical attack in the country's Idlib province.
Australia has six fighter jets based in the United Arab Emirates that strike targets in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey and the Kurdish fighters have come to blows on a few occasions in recent months, leading US forces to establish a buffer between them.
The Syrian government said the truce was part of national reconciliation efforts. USA officials say the aircraft had struck America's rebel allies. Also, Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria. The U.S. recently deployed a truck-mounted missile system in Syria as Iranian-backed forces cut off the advance of the U.S. -supported rebels along the Iraqi border. Clashes between the Kurdish-led SDF and Syrian forces have been rare and some rebel groups have even accused them of coordinating on the battlefield.
The shoot-down was near Tabqah - a Syrian town in an area that has been a week-long focus of fighting against Islamic State group militants by the SDF, as they surround the city of Raqqa and attempt to retake it.
What the recent incidents "indicate is a complicated and complex battlespace, and we continue to try to operate transparently and to communicate intentions around our actions so it is clear we are focusing on the defeat of ISIS in Syria", US Central Command spokesman Colonel John Thomas said on Monday.