Russia: All International Coalition Planes & Drones Will Be Followed As “Targets”
In response to the U.S. shooting down a Syrian fighter jet on Sunday night, the Russian Defense Ministry gave the following statement:
“All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets.”
Russia has also suspended the use of a military hotline between U.S. and Russian forces which served to help avoid U.S.-Russia military clashes. According to U.S. officials, the Syrian fighter jet shot down on Sunday night was attacking Kurdish forces, which the U.S. supports. However, Syria and Russia claim the jet was part of Syria’s advancing campaign against ISIS forces.
In a telephone interview with the NY Times, U.S. military spokesman Col. Ryan Dillion said, “We are going to continue to conduct operations throughout Syria, providing air support for coalition and partnered forces on the ground.”
The downing of the Syrian fighter jet comes as tensions in Syria between the U.S. and Syrian/Russian forces have escalated in recent months. In early April the newly elected Trump administration authorized air strikes on a Syrian military base in response to a highly contested and unconfirmed chemical weapon attack by Syria. A couple of weeks later in mid-April U.S. forces killed 18 Syrian soldiers via an accidental and ‘misdirected’ airstrike.
Also according to the NY Times, Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the Russian Senate’s defense committee, called the downing of the Syrian warplane a “blunt act of aggression and provocation.”
“It is Russia that is being provoked most of all,” Mr. Klintsevich wrote in a Facebook post. “It seems that the United States under Donald Trump is the source of danger for the Middle East and the whole world on a qualitatively new level.”
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