Australia halts air strikes over Syria amid US-Russia tensions

On Sunday, the USA shot down a Syrian plane that had dropped bombs near its ground-partnered Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) south of Tabqa about two hours after SDF fighters were wounded in an earlier attack by pro-Syrian regime forces in Ja'Din.

Meanwhile, Australia's military military said on Tuesday it was temporarily halting air missions over Syria, following the shooting down of a Syrian jet by USA forces on Sunday.

Australia is part of a US -led coalition that has been waging war against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

The threat came after a U.S. Navy fighter aircraft shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday, an act that the Pentagon explained as a defensive measure to protect U.S. allies who are pressuring Islamic State in its stronghold of Raqqa.

For the first time in two years, Syrian troops reached the border with Iraq, establishing a link with Iraqi forces that were advancing on their side, and outflanking US troops and allied rebels in Tanf, near the border with Jordan.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are now moving towards Raqqah in a bid to remove Daesh from its Syrian stronghold, are often accompanied by US special operations forces.

Moscow has now suspended a hotline meant to prevent confrontations in Syria's crowded air space, and warned it could consider US-led coalition planes "targets".

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet flew within five feet of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Monday over the Baltic Sea, according to a U.S. official, an encounter that was assessed to be "unsafe".

A spokesman for Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, said all six ballistic missiles it launched on Syria hit their targets, according to "local sources and drone films".

Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force deployed long-range B-52 bombers and 800 airmen to the United Kingdom in support of joint exercises with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and partners across Europe. It is still unclear what the missiles struck, and Iran has provided few details. Also, Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria.

The announcement came days after UNICEF appointed its newest Goodwill Ambassador, Syrian Muzoon Almellehan, 19, the first person with official refugee status to become an Ambassador for UNICEF.

The military said Binali was killed in Mayadeen, an IS-held Syrian town near the Iraqi border.

Nearly simultaneously, they advanced south and east of Aleppo all the way to Raqqa province, where the coalition is backing the mostly Kurdish force against IS.

The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Daraa-based activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh says fighting is now underway in the city.

The Syrian government forces' march toward the Jordanian border comes two weeks after they reached the border with Iraq for the first time in years.

The Iranian-made Shahed 129 is the same type that was shot down earlier this month after it dropped a "dud" munition near a patrol being carried out by coalition troops and local forces. The conflict quickly descended into a civil war, which has since left at least 400,000 people dead.

  • Leroy Wright