(June 20)Russia has said that it will now consider US warplanes operating in parts of Syria where its forces are also present as "targets" after the U.S. downed a Syrian jet.
|The Russian defence ministry said it would track U.S.-led coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft although the statement did not say that they would shoot the aircraft down. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has announced that it is suspending flights in Syria as a precaution. In a statement the Russian Defence Ministry said: “All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets.” On Sunday a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 jet in the countryside west of the city of Raqqa. This is the first ever downing of a Syrian jet by the U.S. since the civil war began in 2011. While the Assad government said the plane was on a mission against Islamic State militants, the U.S. claimed it dropped bombs near U.S. forces. Astonishingly, the U.S. apparently did not use the hotline with Russia ahead of downing the plane. The Russian ministry accused the U.S. of a "deliberate failure to make good on its commitments" under the deconfliction deal between the two forces.|
"Following the pro-Syrian forces' attack, the coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing. At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet."Note that the official statement does not say the bombs were dropped on the SDF fighters but near them! Whereas earlier in its report ABC had said it was on them. ABC makes the same incorrect claim on the appended video. The Syrian pilot of the downed jet was able to eject and was rescued later by Assad troops.