Russian Federation threatens to target United States warplanes over Syria

Claudine Rigal
Juin 24, 2017

Two other times this month the US has shot down Iranian-made drones in southern Syria that were deemed to pose a threat to USA and partner forces.

The U.S-led coalition said in a statement that an F-15E Strike Eagle jet destroyed the Shaheed-129 drone around 12:30 am local time close to the Jordanian border.

The U.S. -led coalition said the location was close to where another "pro-regime" drone, which intelligence sources had also identified as Iranian, was shot down on June 8 after dropping bombs near coalition forces.

The incident began when forces loyal to the Assad regime attacked the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Ja'Din wounding an unknown number of SDF fighters.

In another development, the USA military announced officially that coalition forces had killed the top cleric of so-called Islamic State (IS), Turki al-Binali, in an air strike in Syria last month. Tuesday's incident also comes less than 2 days after the USA shot down a Syrian fighter jet after it allegedly attacked US -backed fighters near Tabqah.

Russian Federation said on Monday it would treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates in Syria as potential targets and track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

The movements of ISIS terrorists in the area are being monitored by Russian surveillance assets operating round the clock, the military said, adding that any potential targets detected will be subject to precision strikes by the Air Force.

Airwars, an independent monitor that tracks casualties and coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, estimates that between 4,118-6,360 civilians have been killed by USA coalition airstrikes since August 2014. Russian Federation also threatened to target aircraft flown by the USA and its allies over Syria. That incident angered Russian Federation, which intervened in the Syrian civil war on Syria's behalf in 2015 and has a hotline with the U.S.to deconflict airspace and make sure their air forces don't collide mid-air.

The F-15 plane downed the drone around 00:30 on Tuesday (21:30 GMT Monday) north-east of Tanf, according to a U.S. military statement. We are in the killing-ISIS business.

"An incident occurred, we have to work through the incident, we have a channel to be able to do that", he said.

Michael Mosser, who specializes in worldwide relations and global studies at the University of Texas at Austin says the US has a choice in Syria - to de-escalate its role in the conflict, or take a more aggressive stance, especially with regard to Russian Federation.

Fighting and bombardment meanwhile resumed early Tuesday between Syrian government forces and rebels in the southern city of Daraa and nearby areas, where a 48-hour truce had gone into effect on Saturday.

Syrian state television, quoting army sources, said they had resumed the offensive, which took place as USA and Russian officials were holding another round of secret talks on creating a "de-escalation zone" in southwestern Syria that would include Daraa. These small bases are an addition to the main garrison at At Tanf where U.S. troops are training local tribes to fight ISIS. "You are not just fighting Bashar al-Assad", he noted.

The U.S. response has been confused.

It was not known what exactly was hit and Iran has provided no details.

More than 320,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict began with anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.

A second U.S. official said the use of ballistic missiles may also have been intended as a signal that Iran remains committed to supporting Assad and a reminder that USA forces and bases in the region are within reach of Iranian missiles and ground forces.

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