National Defence mum on Russian threat to shoot down planes in Syria
Jun 20 2017 by Desiree Burns
-Russian understanding on avoiding air incidents.
US -backed Syrian militias accused the Syrian government on Monday, June 19 of bombing their positions southwest of Raqqa city in recent days and threatened to retaliate if the attacks continue, Reuters reports.
"While we want to deescalate the situation there...we will always preserve the right to self-defense", Spicer said. The Pentagon says the Syrian jet was downed "immediately" after it dropped bombs near fighters from the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who had been holding a town west of Raqqa as part of an offensive against ISIS. Moscow has said it entered the fight mainly to combat IS.
The US also said they are working to restore the "deconfliction" communication line with Russian Federation. "I'm also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves".
The Syrian army said the plane crashed and the pilot was missing in the first such downing of a Syrian jet by the United States since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. They are in support of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters aligned against Islamic State militants.
The ministry's comments Monday came after a U.S. Navy fighter jet on Sunday shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had dropped bombs on Syrian rebel forces who are fighting ISIS in the country.
Dunford said the two sides had discussions on the matter as recently as Monday morning but that further talks were still needed.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there was still communications between a U.S. air operations center in Qatar and Russian forces on the ground in Syria but added: "We'll work diplomatically and military in the coming hours to reestablish deconfliction".
Russian Federation on Monday threatened to target USA and coalition aircraft operating over Syria, further escalating already simmering tensions in the war-torn region.
The developments give new urgency to a meeting set for later this week between senior US and Russian diplomats that were meant to focus on irritants in the relationship that are hampering cooperation in other areas, notably Syria and Ukraine.
The threat against US and coalition aircraft from Russian officials came amid another troubling development in region - the firing of several ballistic missiles by Iran at Islamic State positions in eastern Syria in what it said was a message to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The Russian Defense Ministry contradicted the coalition claim that the air safety hotline had been used and noted that there were Russian aircraft in the area at the time of the shootdown.