Russia warns it will target U.S. fighters after F-18 downs Syrian warplane

by WorldTribune Staff, June 19, 2017

A day after a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane, Russia on June 19 warned that it would target any U.S.-led coalition jets and drones that are discovered “west of the Euphrates River.”

On June 18, a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 after the Syrian plane bombed U.S.-backed rebels in Raqqa Province, the Pentagon said.

U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet aboard the USS George Bush. / U.S. Navy photo

“Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia’s air defenses on and above ground,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

U.S. Central Command released a statement saying that “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, (the Syrian SU-22) was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet.”

The coalition said it “contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘deconfliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing.”

Russia denied that the United States had used a communications channel before the SU-22 bomber was downed, the ministry said, adding that it was suspending its interaction with the United States on preventing air incidents over Syria.

“The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat,” the Pentagon said.

A Syrian Army statement said the “flagrant attack” was aimed at undermining “the efforts of the army as the only effective force capable with its allies…in fighting terrorism across its territory.”

“This comes at a time when the Syrian Army and its allies were making clear advances in fighting the [ISIS] terrorist group,” it said, adding that the pilot was missing.

Meanwhile, Russian news agencies quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on June 19 that the United States should respect Syria’s territorial integrity and refrain from unilateral actions in this country.

“As for what is happening ‘on the ground’ in Syria, we proceed from the assumption that it is necessary to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity in Syria,” Lavrov was quoted as saying. “Therefore, any actions ‘on the ground,’ and there are many participants there, including those who carry out military operations, should be coordinated with Damascus.”

Lavrov’s deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, described the U.S. strike as another step toward “dangerous escalation.”

“We are warning Washington against using similar methods in the future,” Ryabkov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

The SDF is in the process of encircling Raqqa, ISIS’s last major stronghold in Syria.

Letters to the Editor __ Subscribe to Geostrategy-Direct __ Support Free Press Foundation