USA shoots down drone close to Iraqi-Syrian border
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Jun 21, 2017,
Jun 21, 2017, 9:27
The extraordinary destruction of a Syrian fighter jet by a USA aircraft on Sunday has precious little to do with the Syrian plane's target in the desert near Rasafa - but much to do with the advance of the Syrian army close to the American-backed Kurdish forces along the Euphrates.
The incident - the first of its kind since the USA started fighting ISIS in Syria in 2014 - prompted Russian Federation to issue a threat to coalition aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates that they "will be considered air targets".
The development comes as tensions rise in Syria with Russian Federation and Iran sending US warnings. The drone was observed in the same area where another UAV was shot down on June 8. In a statement, the Syrian military described the downing of its plane as an act of "blatant aggression" on the part of the United States and accused the U.S. of coordinating with ISIS. The U.S. has conducted three airstrikes over the past month against those forces as they entered the deconfliction zone and moved towards At Tanf.
In addition to downing the Syrian jet near Raqqa, the USA has also fired on Syrian government forces in the east on three occasions in just the last month.
The U.S. military said it is not at war with the Assad regime, but is taking defensive actions to protect the U.S. -backed Syrian Defense Force (SDF).
On Sunday, the United States 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.
"A threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that poses a threat to Russian aircraft", Mr Ryabkov said.
The ministry also said that Russian Federation was discontinuing cooperation with the U.S. military as part of the memorandum on preventing mid-air incidents and ensuring flights safety during operations in Syria. An ABC news report said that the Syrian plane actually dropped bombs on rebel forces fighting the Islamic State rather than just near them.
Some Trump appointees saw Iran's missile strike as an illustration of Tehran's regional ambitions, which they have argued make it an existential enemy, according to the three United States officials.
Unlike in Iraq, where the U.S.is a partner with Iraqi troops to liberate Mosul and other IS bastions, Washington has refused to work with Assad, who is mired in Syria's civil war that is in its seventh year and has killed more than 400,000 people.
The competition between the Syrian army and the militias and US -backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels has stepped up in the Badia desert that stretches to the Iraqi border after Islamic State abandoned large swathes of territory as it defends Raqqa and Deir Zor.