US and Moscow in delicate talks on Syria tensions

US and Moscow in delicate talks on Syria tensions”

The U.S. military confirmed that one of its F-18 Super Hornets shot down a Syrian Su-22 that had dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces SDF.

On three occasions in recent weeks, coalition aircraft have bombed pro-government forces who got too close to United States forces and their allies in eastern Syria.

The Kurdish-led SDF has been pushing into ISIS's Raqqa base of operations with the help of airstrikes and special forces from the USA -led coalition.

If the Russians truly intend to lock down a significant portion of Syrian airspace and the Trump Administration is unwilling to test Russia's resolve (which would mean putting American pilots in harm's way), Russia/Syria will effectively achieve air superiority west of the Euphrates River.

This weekend's fast-paced developments bring new urgency to easing escalating strains between Washington and Moscow, who are both fighting in Syria but with opposing objectives.

The missiles fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Sunday targeted IS in Deir al-Zor province, fast becoming the jihadists' last remaining foothold in Syria and a declared military priority of Tehran's allies in the Syrian government.

As the front lines of the Kurdish-dominated SDF and pro-government groups collide in eastern Syria, the USA has become increasingly at risk of a direct conflict with the Syrian government, Iran-allied fighters and now Russian Federation.

Escalating tensions in the region "doesn't help anybody", White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.

In a move that will fan tensions between Washington and Moscow, Russia made clear it was changing its military posture in response to the USA downing of the jet.

Russia's suspension of the use of a deconfliction channel over Syrian airspace with the United States will not lead to a direct confrontation with U.S. aircraft, a Russian upper house committee chairman told Sputnik on Monday.

The Russian defense ministry said in a statement on Monday that it was suspending the deal after the US military confirmed that it downed a Syrian Air Force fighter jet on Sunday after it dropped bombs near USA partner forces.

In April, after the USA missile strike on a Syrian airbase, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia would suspend the 2015 agreement aimed at minimizing risks of in-flight incidents.

Tensions escalated on Sunday as the US military brought down a Syrian military jet near Raqqa for bombing near USA -allied forces on the ground, the first time Washington had carried out such an action in the multi-pronged civil war.

"All flying objects, including planes and drones of the worldwide coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets", the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, as reported by The New York Times.

"I'm confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russian Federation's operations center", Dunford said.

It is advancing towards the region on three fronts, south of Raqa, through the Badia desert region in central Syria, and along the eastern border.

The coalition said the Syrian warplane had been shot down "in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces".

"We are going to make sure that we have the right aircraft in the right places", he said, noting that some aircraft may have to avoid "high-threat" areas.

The Syrian jet was shot down on Sunday evening after regime forces engaged the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters battling IS, near Raqa. Those attacks led Hizbollah, which is also active in Syria, to threaten U.S. troops.

Bolstered by coalition air-power, Kurdish forces in Syria have entered the second week of fighting to seize the city of Raqqa, where almost 2,000 ISIS fighters are battling to maintain control of their de facto capital in a bloody street-by-street battle. Moscow has said it entered the fight mainly to combat IS.

"The Russian Federation has indicated that their goal in Syria, like ours, is to defeat ISIS, and we'll see if that's true here in the coming hours", he said.

Syria's latest developments add significance to talks set for Friday in St Petersburg between senior USA and Russian diplomats meant to focus on key differences in the relationship, such as Syria and Ukraine.

In the aftermath of the attack, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the strike "an act of aggression," and the Pentagon's scramble to re-establish deconfliction came amid the foreign ministry's announcement that it was "suspending its communications channel with USA forces", thus making the likelihood of collisions in Syrian airspace higher.

At the time, a Russian representative to the United Nations called the act an "illegitimate action by the United States". "The balance of power in Syria is shifting away from Moscow and you are having a more assertive US presence in the region".

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