Russia wants US explanation for downing jet

Russia wants US explanation for downing jet

Cheryl Sanders
June 22, 2017

With pro-Syrian government forces now between US -backed fighters at Tanf and predominantly Islamic State-controlled areas any future offensive in the area will be hard. The U.S. said it acted after the Syrian plane bombed fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurds and Syrian Arab groups that the U.S. has supported.

Washington also described those strikes as self-defense. The US believes it has the right to occupy a part of Syria and demands that a de-confliction zone around the town of Tanf in southwest Syria where there is a coalition training base for forces fighting the Islamic State not be entered by Syrian government forces.

"It displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces", the statement said. "We oppose Assad, but our main enemy is Isis [another acronym for the IS], which also opposes Assad".

Moscow expects "detailed" explanations from Washington after the USA on Sunday shot down a Syrian drone bomber, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Operating in both Syria and Iraq, the force includes about 780 personnel, including 300 service members who work in its air group.

The U.S. military has confirmed it killed a top Islamic State cleric in an airstrike.

The recent incidents were condemned by the Syrian government and Russian Federation, saying the Syrian jet was conducting operations against ISIS. That led Russian Federation, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, to warn that it would target USA -led coalition planes flying west of the Euphrates River.

A U.S. F-15 fighter aircraft shot down an Iranian-made drone over southern Syria on Tuesday, the Defense Department said, marking the fifth time the USA has attacked pro-Syrian government assets within a month.

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That took place near the Syrian city of Taqba, which has been the focus of fighting as USA -sponsored ground forces advance Raqqa.

In another complication, Iran on Sunday launched ballistic missile strikes at IS targets in eastern Syria, the first time it has carried out such an action.

One official said that the drone was shot down because it was "assessed to be a threat". It did not say if Australian airstrikes had resumed or when or if they would. "You are not just fighting Bashar al-Assad", Murphy said.

The push by the Syrian government forces in the Daraa area appears headed for the Jordanian border, two weeks after Assad's troops reached the border with Iraq for the first time in years.

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused the USA of "open collusion with terrorists" in Syria.

The aim is "to ensure that they can't easily be excluded, and that they remain on track to ultimately retake the entirety of the country", Heller said.

The staunch U.S. ally in September said it would widen the scope of targets in the air war against IS by allowing its pilots to strike jihadist support and logistics resources in Iraq and Syria.

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