US MILITARY shot down a Syrian military plane last Sunday.
Up until yesterday, all sides had agreed to the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria. This was an agreement that the US, Syria and Russia would not attack each others’ planes as they were all fighting against a common enemy, IS.
The US coalition boasted it had shot down the Syrian SU-22 after it bombed terrorist forces in Raqqa province. It is believed to be the first air-to-air kill of a manned aircraft by a US military jet since the Kosovo campaign in 1999. The US-led coalition conducted what the Pentagon said was a ‘show of force’.
The Pentagon statement added: ‘The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-Isis operations will not be tolerated.’
The US coalition, it claimed, 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’. Syria condemned America’s ‘flagrant attack’, saying it could have ‘dangerous repercussions’.
Yesterday afternoon the Russian Ministry of Defence put out the following stark warning: ‘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 international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air Defence forces as air targets.’
The ministry emphasised that Russian warplanes were on a mission in Syrian airspace during the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian Su-22, while the US coalition failed to use the communication line to prevent an incident. The command of the coalition forces did not use the existing communication channel between the air commands of Al Udeid Airbase (in Qatar) and the Khmeimim Airbase to prevent incidents in Syrian airspace.’
The ministry considers the move ‘a conscious failure to comply with the obligations under the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria,’ and is thus halting cooperation with the US within the memorandum framework as of June 19, the statement concluded.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov criticised the shooting down of the Syrian fighter jet as an act of aggression. Ryabkov said on Monday that the downing was akin to ‘helping the terrorists that the US is fighting against.’
He exclaimed: ‘What is this, if not an act of aggression?’ On June 8, US warplanes shot down a Syrian drone near the Tanf garrison close to the Jordanian border. It was the third time in less than a month that US forces had struck Syrian forces near the base.
On the same day, at least 17 civilians were killed when US airstrikes hit the northern Syrian city of Raqqah and its suburbs.