Australia suspends airstrikes in Syria after U.S. downed jet

The global coalition backs the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led alliance that has been fighting against the Islamic State since 6 June in al-Raqqa, the terror organisation's main stronghold in Syria since it established its self-proclaimed caliphate in 2014.

Murphy's remarks came two days after a US Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane for the first time, prompting Russian Federation to issue a threat against American airborne assets over Syrian airspace.

"We have agreed in the past, that is we and the Russian Federation Pro-Regime Forces, that operations that the coalition were conducting in Syria were effectively degrading ISIS capability, and will work to restore that de-confliction chain in the next few hours", Dunford said.

The action was a "flagrant aggression" that confirmed the US' "real stance in support of terrorism", Syria's military said. According to an ABC report the downing happened over the town of Ja Din, south of the town of Tabqa recently retaken from the Islamic State by the Syrian Democratic Forces an umbrella group of mostly Kurdish but also Arab fighters.

"In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying objects, including jets and drones of the global coalition, detected in west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian ground-and-air defenses as air targets", it said. The coalition shot down Iranian-made Shahed-129, belonging to the Syrian #Air Force, near the At-Tanf area, the channel said.

"I can tell you it was an Iranian-made drone", Davis said, declining to speculate on who specifically was operating it.

Both the United States and Russian Federation contend their forces are in Syria to fight ISIS. While the Assad government said the plane was on a mission against Islamic State militants, the USA claimed it dropped bombs near U.S. forces.

The Russian Defense Ministry said: "Repeated combat actions by us aviation under the cover of counter-terrorism against lawful armed forces of a country that is a member of the United Nations are a massive violation of global law and de facto a military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic".

The US military said it was willing to continue to cooperate with the Russians to avoid an aerial incident.

"Given recent events, the coalition will not allow pro-regime aircraft to threaten or approach in close proximity to coalition and partnered forces", it said.

But they are going about it in very different ways which has seen Moscow and Washington regularly clash. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the air-safety hotline was not used and also noted that there were also Russian aircraft in the area when the plane went down.

The White House responded by saying it retains the right to defend itself and coalition-allied forces fighting the so-called Islamic State in Syria. In the last few weeks the U.S. has mounted three air strikes on Assad forces when they tried to enter the area.

At least 45 Islamic State militants were killed in the Syrian city of al-Raqqa, a UK-based war monitor reported on Tuesday. The US is becoming ever more involved in the war in Syria.

  • Carolyn Briggs