Moscow is reacting angrily after the US shot down a Syrian jet Sunday. The Syrian jet shot down yesterday had dropped bombs on allied troops, and the US F/A-18E Super Hornets that responded to the threat attempted to warn it off, but that warning went unheeded. Russia now says it will treat US planes as targets in certain regions of Syria.
The Russian defense ministry proclamation mean US led coalition planes are now in danger. Anything west of the Euphrates, Russia says, will be actively targeted, and all planes in Syrian airspace will be tracked.
The Russians are not accepting US reports about the decision to shoot down the Syrian SU-22. Russia has long supported Syrian President Bashar Assad, and has provided air support for the regime for more than two years.
In addition, the defense ministry says it will be suspending all efforts in the “de-confliction zones.” The AP is reporting that the ministry is calling the incident Sunday a “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” to ease tensions.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the action a sign of direct “aggression,” and told Russian Russian reporters that the downing of the plane was the same as “helping the terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against.”
“What is this, if not an act of aggression?” Ryabkov asked.
The actions by the US pilot mark the first time since 1999 that a US fighter jet has destroyed a a manned enemy aircraft in air to air combat. After, the US military characterized the incident as self defense. The last recorded air to air kill by a US pilot was in 1999 during the Kosovo War when a US F-15 shot down a Yugoslavian Mig-29.
Late Sunday, a United States Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet engaged a Syrian SU-22 multi-use fighter-bomber after the aircraft completed a bombing run against US backed rebels who have joined the United States’ fight against ISIS in the area.
According to an ABC News report:
The incident occurred in the town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqa, Syria, which had recently been retaken from ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces supported by the U.S. in the fight against the militant group.
SDF came under attack from regime forces in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad around 4:30 p.m. Syria time. A number of SDF fighters were wounded in the assault, and the SDF soon left Ja’Din.
Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force overhead that stopped the initial pro-regime advance towards the town.
A statement issued by the US led coalition in the area clarified details about the incident:
“Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing,” the statement read.
“At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet,” said the statement.
“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 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.”