Russia: U.S.-led coalition planes in Syria now targets after downing of Syrian jet

Nabaa Media via AP

WASHINGTON — Russia’s defense ministry says it will treat U.S.-led coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, as targets after the U.S. military shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday.

Moscow has condemned the U.S. downing of the Syrian government fighter jet after it dropped bombs nears U.S. partner forces.

The Russian defense ministry says in a statement that, starting Monday, it will track all jets and drones of the U.S.-led coalition west of the Euphrates and treat them as targets.

The ministry also called on the U.S. military to provide a full account of why it decided to shoot down the Syrian SU-22.

The United States and Russia, which has been providing an air cover for Syria’s President Bashar Assad since 2015 in his offensive against the Islamic State group, have a standing agreement that should prevent in-the-air incidents involving U.S. and Russia jets engaged in operations in Syria.

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

The ministry says it views the incident as Washington’s “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the de-confliction deal.

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.”

Ryabkov asks: “What is this, if not an act of aggression?”