Led coalition downs Iran-made drone in Syria
- Author: Joanne Flowers Jun 24, 2017,
Jun 24, 2017, 3:02
Australian warplanes will soon resume airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria after operations were suspended as a precaution because a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week, the defense chief said Wednesday.
Instead, Russia is reacting to the reality that the United States and partnered forces have gained control over a large swath of eastern Syria that ISIS once held, which would be "an existential threat to the Assad regime, as it opens it up to internal dissent and destabilizing", said Heras.
The incident has similar hallmarks to a June 8 downing, when a USA jet destroyed a pro-regime drone after it dropped what turned out to be a dud bomb near US-backed local forces.
Coalition troops were working in the area alongside local forces who are being trained to fight ISIL.
Last weekend, for the first time, the USA shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had dropped bombs near the SDF.
Moscow has now suspended an incident hotline meant to prevent confrontations in Syria's crowded air space, and warned it could consider US-led coalition planes "targets".
After the Russian threats, Australia also said Tuesday that it had suspended its air operations over Syria.
The US military said that it will continue to shoot down "pro-regime aircraft" if they persist to pose a threat to coalition and allied militias.
Also the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Monday they will respond to any Syrian government attacks in Raqqa province after the US-led coalition downed a Syrian jet attacking the SDF forces on 18 June.
"The worst thing that any of us could do right now is, would be to address this thing with hyperbole", he said during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are likely to meet for the very first time since Trump's election at the G20 summit in Germany next month.
The pro-government forces are not fighting the battle for Raqqa, but they have been making ground against IS in the surrounding area, south-west of the city.
U.S. support of anti-Islamic State militias such as the ones in At Tanf and the Syrian Democratic Forces has increasingly put it into direct conflict with Syria and its allies Russia, Iran, and Shiite militias.
Its forces are moving on three fronts, south of Raqa city, through the central Badia desert region, and along the eastern border.
"We will work diplomatically and militarily in the coming hours to re-establish deconfliction", said US General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, referring to the hotline.
"They were threatening our forces on the ground", the U.S. official quoted by AFP said.
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.
Operations were suspended earlier this week, after a USA fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane.
In recent weeks, US-led coalition's warplanes struck pro-Assad government forces to prevent them advancing from the Al-Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria at a spot where the country's borders meet Iraq and Jordan. Russian Federation condemned the US action and in retaliation suspended a hotline meant to prevent such incidents.