Russian Defence Ministry Stops Short of Threatening to Attack US Aircraft

A U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet shot down an Iranian-made Shahed 129 drone that was armed and within firing range of coalition troops in southern Syria on June 20, according to representatives of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Australia is part of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and in late 2015 extended air operations into Syria, with a total of 780 defence personnel based in the Middle East.

On Sunday, a U.S. F/A-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 attack jet after it fired on US allies near the city of Tabqa, which is well to the north of Tanf.

The downing of the drone comes just days after a US F/A-18 shot down a regime warplane after dropping bombs near US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting ISIS in the area around Tabqah, Syria, in the north of country. The U.S. military has established a roughly 50-kilometer "deconfliction" ring around Tanf, warning the pro-Assad Iranian-backed forces through a Russian deconfliction channel that movement within the zone could be considered hostile. The Russian defense ministry's statement added that any coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River would be tracked and "considered air targets".

The US military later said it was seeking to re-establish the hotline. ISIS is an acronym for the Islamic State terror group. As they all increase their involvement, those fights have become less separated, and particularly in the case of the U.S. and Russian Federation, the threat of direct clashes is growing.

The White House also said it would work to keep lines of communication open with Russian Federation amid the new tensions.

The army of President Bashar Assad seeks to recapture as much lost territory as possible and they have the backing of Russia, Iranian troops, Shiite militia from Iraq and Afghanistan, and Hezbollah.

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

Syrian Arabs stationed near Tanf are being armed and trained by the United States to fight against ISIS.

"The Syrian regime ... needs to understand that we will keep the right of self-defense of coalition forces aligned against ISIS", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Russian Federation condemned the US military's downing of a Syrian warplane and suspended the use of a military hotline that Washington and Moscow have used to avoid collisions in Syrian airspace.

In another first, Iran - another close Assad ally - fired ballistic missiles at IS targets in eastern Syria, in the province of Deir el-Zour, later on Sunday.

Russia, which is flying its own air war in Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, condemned the incident and said it had shut off a special "deconflict" hotline with the U.S. military, through which the two powers can warn each other of operations and avoid mishaps.

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.

  • Leroy Wright