Russian Federation suspends cooperation with U.S. in Syrian airspace

Russian Federation suspends cooperation with U.S. in Syrian airspace

"The absence of a civilian-led US strategy in Syria and the narrow USA military focus on ISIS will continue to provide an open invite for the pro-Assad regime coalition to extend and escalate", Cafarella said.

American forces operating in Syria or its airspace are capable of defending themselves, the top USA military officer said Monday after Russian Federation threatened to shoot down foreign aircraft in its area of operation in the war-torn nation.

The threat of a direct confrontation with Russian forces grew far more serious over the last 48 hours, after USA forces shot down a Syrian jet that allegedly dropped bombs on us -allied Syrian Democratic Forces.

It is the second downing of a pro-regime drone in the area and comes amid heightened tensions in the region following the USA shootdown of a Syrian fighter jet.

It is the fifth time in the past month the United States has struck at forces allied with the Syrian government in the area.

An American F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday evening as it "dropped bombs" near a US-backed alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are fighting IS, the US-led coalition said in a statement.

In another complication, Iran on Sunday launched ballistic missile strikes at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria, the first time it has carried out such an action.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, has been providing air cover to the government's offensive since 2015. The Russian defense ministry's statement added that any coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River would be tracked and "considered air targets".

The U.S. and its coalition partners fly combat and support missions daily out of several bases in the Middle East, including in Qatar and Turkey.

The United States, however, intends to continue their operations as usual in their fight against ISIS targets.

The Sunni majority population in the Euphrates River Valley could complicate the US goal of eradicating ISIS from the region.

Following Russia's warning that it will view USA warplanes as targets if they fly west of the Euphrates river, the USA military has justified shooting down a Syrian warplane on Sunday as an act of self-defence. "The balance of power in Syria is shifting away from Moscow and you are having a more assertive US presence in the region".

"I'm confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russia federation operations center and I'm also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves", Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The incident and Russia's response further complicate Syria's six-year war and come as the US-led coalition and allied fighters battle to oust IS from Raqqa.

The unprecedented U.S. downing of a Syrian regime warplane highlights the rapidly shifting dynamic in the six-year conflict where President Donald Trump has given American commanders a freer rein in the battlefield.

While the US military's shootdown of a Syrian jet on Sunday was a rarity in modern warfare, the first in 18 years, it was not an isolated incident.

A top Russian diplomat has condemned the United States for shooting down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet the previous day as an act of "aggression".

Before that attack, USA officials informed their Russian counterparts.