Breaking: Russia halts cooperation with U.S. in Syria over Syrian jet downing, will track coalition aircraft as targets; Pentagon says it will retaliate if “threatened”

From RT:

Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow

June 19, 2017

The Russian Defense Ministry announced it is halting cooperation with its US counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria following the coalition’s downing of a Syrian warplane.

The ministry has demanded a thorough investigation by the US military command into the incident with the Syrian government military jet, with the results to be shared with the Russian side.

“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated.

Downing the military jet within Syrian airspace “cynically” violates the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, Russian military said.

The actions of the US Air Force are in fact “military aggression” against Syria, the statement adds.

The ministry emphasized that Russian warplanes were on a mission in Syrian airspace during the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian Su-22, while the coalition failed to use the communication line to prevent an incident.

“The command of the coalition forces did not use the existing communication channel between the air commands of Al Udeid Airbase (in Qatar) and the Khmeimim Airbase to prevent incidents in Syrian airspace.”

The ministry considers the move “a conscious failure to comply with the obligations under the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria,” and is thus halting cooperation with the US within the memorandum framework as of June 19, the statement concluded.

READ MORE: US-led coalition downs Syrian army plane in southern Raqqa

Earlier Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov condemned the attack, branding it an act of aggression which actually helped the terrorists the US is fighting against.

The US-led coalition downed the Syrian government warplane on Sunday. At the moment of the attack the jet was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) some 40km from Raqqa, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The pilot ejected from the plane above IS-controlled territory and is still missing.

https://www.rt.com/news/393028-syria-russia-us-plane/

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From the Washington Examiner

June 19, 2017

US pilots will defend themselves as Russia threatens aircraft over Syria, Pentagon says

by Jamie McIntyre | Jun 19, 2017

U.S. pilots over Syria will defend themselves if attacked by Russians, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday, following a report that Russia will treat U.S. or coalition aircraft as targets if they fly over areas in western Syria controlled by Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry made the threat Monday after a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 after that plane bombed U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces that are working with the U.S. to defeat the Islamic State on Sunday.

“Any aircraft, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected in the operation areas west of the Euphrates River by the Russian air forces will be followed by Russian ground-based air defense and air defense aircraft as air targets,” the Defense Ministry said.

“We are aware of the Russian statements,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday morning. “We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Davis said.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said the Russian statement has had no effect on the operations in support of U.S.-backed Syrian fighters moving against ISIS in Raqqa in western Syria.

“Coalition aircraft continue to conduct operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for coalition partner forces on the ground,” said Col. Ryan Dillon, chief U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

He also appeared to indicate the U.S. is avoiding the parts of Syria where Russia said U.S. planes would be tracked as potential targets or providing additional airpower to counter threats.

“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to reposition aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrews given known threats in the battlespace,” Dillon said.

The statement was meant as a warning, said Viktor Ozerov, a member of the Russian parliament, described the Defense Ministry’s statement as a warning.

“I’m sure that because of this neither the U.S. nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he said, according to state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”…

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/us-pilots-will-defend-themselves-as-russia-threatens-aircraft-over-syria-pentagon-says/article/2626381

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