Russia threatens US after it downs Syrian warplane

Russia is threatening to shoot down US aircraft and has suspended US coordination after the US downed a Syrian fighter. 

Russia is threatening to shoot down US fighters flying missions over Syria after the US military shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday.

Moscow has condemned the US’ downing of the Syrian government fighter jet after it dropped bombs nears US partner forces.

The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that, starting Monday, it will track all jets and drones of the US-led coalition west of the Euphrates in Syria and treat them as hostile targets.

The ministry also called on the US military to provide a full account of why it decided to shoot down the Syrian SU-22.

Russia’s defense ministry also said it is suspending coordination with the US in Syria over so-called “de-confliction zones.”

The US and Russia, which has been providing air cover for Syria’s President Bashar Assad since 2015 in his offensive against rebel groups, have a standing agreement that should prevent in-the-air incidents involving US and Russia jets engaged in operations in Syria. Israel and Russia have a similar agreement.

The Russian ministry said it views the incident as Washington’s “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the de-confliction deal.

US Retains ‘Right of Self-Defense’

The US says it downed the Syrian jet on Sunday after it dropped bombs near US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against ISIS.

Responding to the escalation, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer stated that “it’s important and crucial that we keep lines of communication open to deconflict potential issues.”

But in a warning that the US would protect its partners, Spicer stressed that “the Syrian regime and others in the region need to understand that we will retain the right of self-defense of coalition forces aligned against ISIS.”

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday he is confident that “we are still communicating,” adding that he is also confident that the US forces “have the capability to take care of themselves.”

The US and its coalition partners fly combat and support missions daily out of several bases in the Middle East, including in Qatar and Turkey. The flights support Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters aligned against ISIS.

The US also has about 1,000 troops on the ground in Syria advising local fighters.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff