Russian officials seem to be rather upset, after a U.S. Jet fighter shot down a Syrian Air Force Jet that was attacking “moderate Muslims and Kurds” supported by the United States on Sunday. The Russian government issued a statement deploring the attack and stated that they would no longer participate in a program designed to minimize the accidental shooting down of aircraft over the war-torn country.
In fact, Russia now says they will treat U.S.-led coalition planes in some parts of Syria as targets following Sunday’s shooting down of a Syrian Air Force jet. The Russian Defense Ministry said planes flying in the area west of the Euphrates River in Syria, would be considered hostile and legitimate targets. This challenge came just 20 hours after the news release that for the first time in history, a U.S. jet had shot down a Syrian plane. It was also the first time since 1999 that a U.S. Jet had shot down any warplane during air-to-air combat.
That incident occurred during a confrontation in the skies over Kosovo when a U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle was confronted by a Serbian MiG-29 and destroyed it with an air-to-air missile. Yesterday, it was a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet that shot down a Syrian SU-22 following a bombing run on U.S. partner forces taking on ISIS. This was not the first time that Syrian forces have attacks U.S. Backed forces on the ground, but on previous occasions the incidents ended only in words being exchanged.
Russia took major offense at the shoot-down, probably because it was one of the aircraft that was supply to Syria by Russia and having ones planes shot down is not good publicity for aircraft sales. As a result, the defense ministry also notified the U.S. it was suspending coordination with the U.S. in Syria over so-called “de-confliction zones”. Russia has been providing air cover for Syria’s President Bashar Assad since 2015 in his offensive against ISIS, has had an agreement with the U.S. Designed to prevent accidental engagements between the two powers while they are engaged in operations over Syria.
But now, the Russian Defense Ministry in an attempt to show its displeasure, said it viewed the incident as Washington’s “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the de-confliction deal. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, told Russian news agencies, the downing was like “helping the terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against. What is this, if not an act of aggression?”
The U.S.-backed opposition fighters have come under attack by Assad’s forces before during the fighting against ISIS in the northern province of Raqqa. They recently warned Assad’s government that if the attacks continued they would take defensive action. The groups are armed with stinger missiles capable of downing such aircraft, but this time the F-18 was close by and came to their aid.