U.S. and Moscow in delicate talks on Syria tensions

Dunford noted that the hotline, which has been vital inprotecting both USA and Russian forces operating in Syria, remained in use "over the last few hours".The Syrian jet was shot down yesterday evening afterregime forces engaged the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters battling IS, near Raqa.

US forces tangled earlier this month with Syria-allied aircraft in the region. The downing of the jet and Russia's response came as the US-led coalition and allied fighters battle to oust Daesh from its Syrian bastion Raqqa. The U.S. -led coalition said it acted in "collective self-defense" of partnered forces.

Australia has been part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State since 2014, first joining operations in Iraq.

It said 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".

What is the reaction of the United States to Russia's threat?

Though the two incidents were nominally unrelated, they have a common cause: the drive by Iran and Russian Federation, along with their Syrian and Iraqi Shiite clients, to dominate the space that will be left when the Islamic State is driven from its capital of Raqqa in eastern Syria, which is under assault from USA -backed Kurdish and Syrian Arab forces.

Following the American military's downing of a Syrian fighter on Sunday, Moscow is no longer using the military hotline between Washington and Moscow utilized to avoid collisions in Syrian airspace. Those forces, which are aligned with the U.S.in the campaign against ISIS, warned Syrian government troops to stop their attacks or face retaliation.

Both the administration of former President Barack Obama and Trump's have focused exclusively on defeating Islamic State, but with the militants' self-proclaimed caliphate shrinking, USA -backed and Syrian-backed forces appear to be competing for territory.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the shoot down an "act of aggression".

In recent weeks, the coalition has fired on pro-regime ground forces approaching the garrison and shot down a pro-regime armed drone.

The U.S. and its coalition partners fly combat and support missions daily out of several bases in the Middle East, including in Qatar and Turkey.

Syria's latest developments add significance to talks set for Friday in St Petersburg between senior USA and Russian diplomats meant to focus on key differences in the relationship, such as Syria and Ukraine.

The US military has said it was repositioning its aircraft over Syria to ensure the safety of American air crews targeting the self-proclaimed Islamic State group. Iraqi lawmaker Abdul-Bari Zebari said his country agreed to the missile overflight after coordination with Iran, Russia and Syria.

  • Zachary Reyes