Pentagon: US shoots down Syrian aircraft for first time

Pentagon: US shoots down Syrian aircraft for first time”

An American fighter jet has for the first time downed a Syrian warplane that Washington accused of attacking US-backed fighters, in a new escalation between the United States and regime forces.

According to a statement from the Pentagon, pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja'Din, south of Tabqah in northern Syria, wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town.

The US-backed opposition fighters said Assad's forces have been attacking their positions in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action. Following the pro-Syrian forces attack, the coalition called its Russian counterparts "to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing", according to the statement. When a Syrian army SU-22 jet later dropped bombs near the USA -backed forces, it was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet, the statement said.

The Syrian Armed Forces, meanwhile, said one of its warplanes was attacked in the Raqqa countryside, "while it was carrying out a combatant mission against ISIS terrorist organization".

A Syrian army statement released on Syrian state television 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 conflict in 2011.

The Syrian government said the truce was part of national reconciliation efforts.

Ryabkov asked: "What is this, if not an 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 U.S. is fighting against".

USA forces tangled earlier this month with Syria-allied aircraft in the region.

SDF spokesman Talal Sillo said the government wants to thwart the SDF offensive to capture Raqqa.

Moscow also called on the USA military to provide a full accounting of why it chose to shoot down the Syrian Su-22.

The Syrian army has also taken territory from retreating Islamic State militants in the western Raqqa countryside and seized back some oil fields and villages that had been under the militants' control for nearly three years.

It's the first time the USA has shot down a Syrian aircraft since it began fighting ISIS in the country in 2014.

The Syrian army backed by Iranian-backed militias has also been in competition in southeastern Syria with USA -backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels who are also trying to recapture territory from ISIS. The agreement covers four zones in Syria where the rebels are fighting pro-government forces.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described the Defense Ministry's statement as a warning.

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