An escalation? The US downed a Syrian fighter in order to protect rebel forces.
The US military on Sunday shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet that bombed rebel forces near the town of Tabqa. The targeted rebel group is aligned with the Americans in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
The US-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a written statement Sunday that a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near US partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
This latest incident may indicate another escalation of the Syrian conflict and marks the first time the US has downed a Syrian aircraft. A Pentagon spokesman said the US had not shot down a Syrian regime aircraft before Sunday’s confrontation.
The US has long said that it would protect what it calls moderate Syrian opposition forces, but this is the first time it resorted to engaging in air-to-air combat to make good on that promise.
The US military statement says it acted in “collective self-defense” of its partner forces and that the US does not seek a fight with the Syrian government or its Russian supporters.
However, a top Russian diplomat condemned the US for its act of “aggression.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies on Monday that the downing was akin to “helping the terrorists that the US is fighting against.”
“What is this, if not an act of aggression?” Ryabkov said.
Russia has been a staunch supporter of Syria’s President Bashar Assad and has been providing an air cover for this offensive since 2015.
By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.