Russia to treat US-led coalition planes in Syria as targets after downed Syrian jet

Russia to treat US-led coalition planes in Syria as targets after downed Syrian jet
US-coalition planes flying west of the Euphrates river will be treated as aerial targets, Russia warned on Monday, after the US confirmed it downed a Syrian warplane.
2 min read
19 June, 2017
Moscow condemned the US downing of the Syrian warplane [Getty]

Russia's defence ministry warned it would now track all coalition flights west of the Euphrates river as aerial targets on Monday, after condemning a US downing of a Syrian warplane.

Mowcow said it would suspend its use of a military hotline for avoiding incidents in Syrian airspace after the US struck down its allies’ plane, which Damascus claimed was used to target Islamic State positions in the country.

Moscow accused the US of failing to use the established communication hotline to warn Russia about the downing of the plane on Sunday.

"The command of the coalition forces did not use the established communication channel for preventing incidents in Syrian airspace," the defence ministry said. 

As a result, it now "ends cooperation with the American side from June 19 based on a memorandum for prevention of incidents and ensuring safety of air flights during operations in Syria, and demands a careful investigation by the US command" of the downing.

"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 defences on and above ground," it said.

But a spokesperson for the US-backed coalition said the attack followed a Syrian bombing mission against their local allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"At 6:43pm (16:43 BST), a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) fighters south of Tabqa," Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement.

"In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet."

By comparison, the Syrian army said its forces had been fighting IS in a statement released by the government-owned SANA agency.

"The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administering terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region," the statement read.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that coalition warplanes are currently carrying out "intensive" airstrikes in the area, while "violent clashes" between the SDF and IS continue.

In April, Russia, a key ally of Syria’s embattled Bashar al-Assad, had also said it was suspending its use of the Syria hotline after US forces struck a Syrian airbase, but the communications had continued.