Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

US shoots down Syrian Air Force fighter

RUSSIA'S DEFENCE MINISTRY has said it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, as targets after the USA military shot down a Syrian Air Force jet yesterday.

About two hours before the shootdown, the Pentagon said pro-regime forces had attacked an SDF-held town called Ja'Din, "wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town".

"This attack comes at a time when the Syrian Arab army and its allies are advancing in the fight against ISIS terrorists who are being defeated in the Syrian desert in more ways than one, " the statement read.

Sillo also warned that if "the regime continues in its offensive against our positions in Raqqa province, this will force us to retaliate with force".

Over the last four weeks, the US has conducted three airstrikes at pro-regime Assad forces, backed by Iran, that have moved into a deconfliction zone around the town of at Tanf in southwest Syria, which is the location of a coalition training base for local forces fighting ISIS.

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Raqqa is now at the center of a bitter battle to push IS out of its last urban stronghold in Syria.

"In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] worldwide coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets", the Russian Ministry of Defense stated.

The coalition, it added, did "not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat". A major reason that recruitment and training of these forces has gone so slowly is because the U.S. refused to protect the fighters we were arming.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were operating in the Tabqa area.

Not only are forces loyal to Assad interested in controlling the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province and relieving the pressure on a Syrian military garrison that has been surrounded there, but the Iranian-backed Shiite fighters are widely believed to be trying to link up with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and establish a supply corridor that runs from Syria to Iraq and, eventually, to Iran.

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Assad regime forces are backed by Russian Federation and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and by Shi'ite militia from Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

President Putin knows that attacking our allies engaged with ISIS in the fight for Raqqa is a red line not to be crossed. The prestige of taking the ISIS capital would empower rebel forces, possibly prolonging the civil war.

The US did not use its communication channel with Russian Federation ahead of the downing of the Syrian jet, the ministry was quoted as saying. The battle is expected to be long and bloody with a rising toll of civilian casualties as ISIS is preventing people from leaving.

"The regime's forces have mounted large-scale attacks using planes, artillery, and tanks since June 17", Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Talal Selo said in a statement.

The engagement was the first between U.S. warplanes and Syria's air force.

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