Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

RAAF halts military flights over Syria amid escalating 'potential threats' from Russian Federation

RAAF halts military flights over Syria amid escalating 'potential threats' from Russian Federation

The U.S. Central Command said, however, that the Syrian plane bombed U.S. -backed forces and the action against it was "in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces".

The downing of the warplane — the first time in the six-year conflict that the US has shot down a Syrian jet — came amid another first: Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria in what it said was a message to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States.

A Russian defense ministry statement warned that all coalition jets and drones flying west of the Euphrates River would be treated as potential targets and would be tracked with missile systems and military aircraft.

"Australia Defence Force protection is regularly reviewed in response to a range of potential threats", added the spokesman for the defence department.

The Pentagon said "the coalition mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria", using an abbreviation for the Islamic State group.

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That incident prompted the Russian ministry of defense to announce that it would suspend the de-confliction hotline with the coalition which is created to prevent any accidents in the skies over Syria.

A USA fighter jet shot down a pro-regime drone near al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, just outside the de-confliction zone according to the officials.

The White House responded on Monday by saying that coalition forces fighting the so-called Islamic State in Syria retained the right to self-defense, Reuters reported.

The Australian Defense Force (ADF) has deployed around 600 personnel to the Middle East, including strike, early warning and refueling aircraft, Special Forces personnel to assist Iraqi forces, and other ADF personnel attached to coalition headquarters.

Analysts say neither Washington nor President Bashar al-Assad's regime appear to be seeking further confrontation, but warn that the risks are high in Syria's increasingly crowded battlefields.

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It is said by the USA military statement it acted in "collective self-defense" of its partner forces.

"Australia is anxious about the suspension of the de-confliction line between Russian Federation and the United States as a result of the downing of the Syrian jet", said Chatham House's Khatib. "We call on Russian Federation to continue to use these measures".

Those exercises have primarily taken place in the Baltic Sea, the Arctic and along Russia's border with several North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners.

"As a result of the strike, the Syrian plane was destroyed".

It was an Iranian-made Shahed 129 and was thought to be armed and in firing range of U.S. troops.

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