Monday, June 19, 2017

U.S.-Led Downing Of Syrian Plane 'Act Of Aggression', Russia Halts Cooperation With U.S. - Will Now Intercept Any Aircraft In Russian Territory

US-led downing of Syrian plane ‘act of aggression’ & ‘support for terrorists’

Moscow views the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian government military jet as an act of aggression and assistance for the terrorists that the US is fighting against, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

“What is it then, if not an act of aggression, an act directly in breach of international law,” Ryabkov told journalists in Moscow.

“If you want, it’s actually help for the terrorists the US is fighting, declaring that they are conducting a counterterrorism policy,” the official added.
Ryabkov added that he believed the strike “should be first of all regarded as the continuation of the US agenda of neglecting the norms of international law. Regardless of who has power in Washington, people there are used to the fact that there are circumstances allowing them to arrogantly look down on – and in some situations, to openly ignore – the basics of international relations.”

A Syrian SU-22 warplane was shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet on Sunday while it was on a mission in the countryside around Raqqa.

Damascus stated that the plane was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists when it was downed.
Washington says that the Syrian warplane “dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah” and was shot down in accordance with “rules of engagement” of Coalition partnered forces.

Shortly after Russia's deputy foreign minister slammed the US downing of a Syrian Su-22 jet as an "act of aggression" and "support for terrorists", Russia announced that starting June 19 it was halting all interactions with the US under the framework on the "memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies", the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday, thereby assuring the probability of even more deadly escalations between Russia and the US-led coalition.

In retaliation, the ministry warned that Russian missile defense will intercept any aircraft in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria
"In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying ojects, including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets," the Russian Defense Ministry announced, quoted by Sputnik.
Contrary to the earlier statement by the US according to which, it "contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established "de-confliction line" to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing", Russia claims the US-led coalition command didn't use the deconfliction channel with Russia to avoid an incident during an operation in Raqqa:

"Russian Aerospace Forces' jets were conducting operations in Syrian airspace that time. However, the command of the coalition forces didn't use the existing channel between the air command of the Qatari airbase al Udeid and the [Russian] Hmeymim airbase to avoid incidents over Syria."

A bilateral memorandum of understanding was signed between the United States and Russia signed in October 2015 to ensure the safety of flights during combat missions over Syria. 

On June 18, the Syrian army said that the US-led coalition had brought down its aircraft in southern Raqqa countryside when it was fulfilling its mission against Daesh. Later, the coalition confirmed the attack saying that it shot down the Syrian government forces' Su-22 aircraft as it had allegedly been bombing in an area where US-backed rebel forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), were stationed, south of Tabqa in the Raqqa province. The US-led coalition called its attack on the Syrian army's jet "collective self-defense," adding that it contacted the Russian military to de-escalate the situation after the incident.

Russia has said it will treat US warplanes operating in parts of Syria where its air forces are also present as “targets” amid a diplomatic row caused by the downing of a Syrian jet.
The country’s defence ministry said it would track US-led coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.
A hotline set up between Russia and the US to prevent mid-air collisions will also be suspended.
“All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.
The warning comes after a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian army SU-22 jet on Sunday in the countryside southwest of Raqqa – the first such downing of a Syrian jet by the US since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.
Washington said the jet had dropped bombs near US-backed forces but Damascus said the plane was downed while flying a mission against Isis militants.
Russia’s defence ministry said the suspension of its communication line with the Americans would begin immediately.
The US did not use its hotline with Russia ahead of the downing of the Syrian government warplane, said the ministry, which accused the US of a “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the deconfliction deal. 
“The shooting down of a Syrian Air Force jet in Syria’s airspace is a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” the ministry said.
“The US’ repeated combat operations under the guise of ‘combating terrorism’ against the legitimate armed forces of a UN member-country are a flagrant violation of international law and an actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

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