Australia says to resume air strikes in Syria after Russia threat

Marie Harrington
June 24, 2017

The U.S. action comes two days after a U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian plane that was attacking U.S. -backed forces near Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital.

There are tensions long running between the United States and Russian Federation that erupted on Monday publicly as Moscow condemned the downing of American military's of a Syrian warplane and threatened to aim aircraft flown by the United States and its allies.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the shoot down an "act of aggression". The Russian military department also ceased to cooperate with the U.S. in the framework of the memorandum on the prevention of incidents in the sky over Syria.

The WaPo report further states that militants backed by Iran have been continuously encroaching towards US-led forces in the region prompting the U.S. military to move guided rocket artillery to Tanf.

Earlier this week, the ADF said it would suspend operations after Russian Federation warned members of the US -led coalition that any aircraft found west of the Euphrates River would be considered a "target" after an American F/A-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday.

The drone was identified as a Shaheed-129 that displayed "hostile intent and advanced" on coalition forces at the At Tanf combat outpost used to train partner Syrian forces in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

Officials also said that the shot Iranian aircraft was the same type of drone that a US warplane had shot down June 8 after it attacked USA -backed fighters in southern Syria.

"We're going to do what we can to protect our interests", White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday, defending the decision to shoot down a Syrian SU-22 jet that had bombed coalition partnered forces near the Syrian town of Tabqah.

The US shot down another Iranian UAV near At Tanf on June 8 after it dropped a bomb on US-backed militias operating in the area. This followed a strike on pro-regime forces on May 18 on the same grounds, according to the coalition.

Tensions have also flared between United States forces and the Syrian regime further north, where the coalition is supporting an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters battling to oust IS from the city of Raqa.

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Russian Federation on Monday said that it was closing the communication line after a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet downed a Syrian government SU-22 fighter-bomber on Sunday.

Reacting to Russia's warning, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has suspended flights over Syria.

At the same time, the hotline has been playing a very important role, allowing Moscow and Washington to notify each other about their air operations over Syria which half a dozen countries, and more - Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, Turkey and the United States with its allies - have transformed into their play field.

The growing tensions come as the coalition supports the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to take Raqa from IS.

The SDF is now trying to enact a siege of the city by taking the southern bank. But for now, they have stopped operations over Syria, "as a precautionary measure". According to Washington sources, the jet had bombed USA -backed forces. "When the armed UAV continued to advance on the Coalition position without diverting its course it was shot down".

On June 9, despite the series of engagements with U.S. forces at Al-Tanaf, the regime skirted around the base to arrive at the Iraqi border for the first time since 2015.

With IS under growing pressure in Raqqa the fight is on for who controls the territory after its demise, our correspondent says.

Despite the increasing number of incidents, analysts say neither Syria's regime nor Washington now wants a major confrontation.

The advance have created tensions, particularly along Syria's border, where the U.S. and its allies are training an anti-IS force at the Al-Tanaf garrison.

Daraa is where the March 2011 uprising against the Assad family's four-decade rule began.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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