Damascus (GPA) – Now that US forces have shot down their first Syrian government jet, Russia is responding by challenging the US coalitions illegal operations.
US fighter jets shot down the Syrian jet just yesterday, but events have unfolded quickly since then. The downing of the Syrian jet by US forces has moved Russia to formally respond by putting up several roadblocks to hopefully prevent further US crimes.
The downing of the Syrian fighter would’ve been enough to raise tension by itself but the situation was made even worse by US backed proxies on the ground. Once the Syrian fighter had been taken out, the Syrian military attempted to reach the location of the pilot behind the lines of the US backed/Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF of course is the same group that made agreements earlier this year with both the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), and Russian military forces near Raqqa. Both the SAA and Russia defended these Kurds from Turkish aggression within just the past several months since both groups share an interest in keeping the Turks out and (supposedly in the SDF’s case) defeating the Islamic State (IS).
The SDF is now apparently showing their true colors as a US proxy. Which not only is encouraging US aggression on the Syrian government but aiding it, in the case of this pilot. Making matters worse is the fact that the Syrian military was allegedly targeting IS forces at the time of the US attack. Leading many to believe that the US Syria policy is back where it started; which of course means IS is preferable to Assad.
Of course the US forces are claiming their actions were completely justified, claiming that the Syrian military was actually targeting their proxy forces in the area. Who exactly those proxies are isn’t being specified in western media’s reporting on the incident. But it seems like an unlikely story since the SAA has the same goal as the SDF and US coalitions, which is of course, removing IS from their ‘capital’.
Russian Response Shuts US Out
Now, despite the fact that even the current US regime says they have shared goals with Syria, there have never been lines of communications between the two parties. This has left Syria’s closest ally, Russia, in the position of formulating the response to this latest illegal act by the US.
The Russian government began rolling out their response this morning by first suspending air traffic and operational communications with US forces in Syria. This is the same hotline between the two countries that was suspended following the US cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase earlier this year.
Since the suspension of communications has occurred before, and the lines later reopened, this alone isn’t cause for any concern. However, decisions later announced by Russia could make Syria an even more volatile situation.
Unlike the last time lines between Washington and Moscow were closed, this time Russia has also stated that they’ll now target US aircraft near their forces the same way they would for anyone declared a hostile force. This latest move only increases the already high chances of further confrontation between Russia and the US. Although Russia shouldn’t be to blame for this since their forces were invited to Syria by the state and the US is an aggressor.
As part of this new Russian policy, US led coalition jets will now be targeted by Russia’s Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems in Syria. The Russian government is justifying both of these moves as the direct result of the US crime and the fact that the de-escalation hotline wasn’t used prior to the decision to strike the Syrian fighter.
What happens next is anyone’s guess at this point. Russia and the US are now another step closer to direct confrontation in Syria but it remains to be seen how these new policies by both countries will play out. This latest incident could be another step down the path towards a larger war, or it could resolve itself in the upcoming weeks, either way it makes repairing US relations with Russia seem even more implausible and brings the tension over Syria to yet another new high.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.