Moscow ends air safety cooperation after US shoots down Syrian plane

The Russian Ministry of Defence posted on Facebook that it would be halting air safety cooperation with the US in Syria following the downing of a Syrian warplane.

Published: June 20, 2017, 9:45 am

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    “In areas of combat missions of Russian aircraft in the skies of Syria any airborne targets, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles international coalition discovered to the West of the Euphrates river, will be accepted in support of Russian ground and air defense as air targets”

    Moscow condemned the attack on the Syrian government military jet as an act of aggression and accused Washington of aiding terrorists.

    Russia terminated its “de-confliction line” with United States military aircraft operating west of the Euphrates river. “The risks of escalation and direct confrontation have never been higher,” legal expert and Judge Jon O. Newman Scholar at Rutgers Law School, Adil Ahmad Haque warned.

    Haque noted that the US had no sound legal grounds for its action: “The US claims to have shot down the Syrian warplane on Sunday in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces. Now, the United Nations Charter recognizes that States have an inherent right of collective self-defense. However, under the UN Charter, collective self-defense refers to defense of another state, not defense of non-state actors. Of course, the SDF fights on behalf of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, which is not recognized as a state, even by the United States. So the US claim that this strike is an exercise of collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces seems not merely false but confused.”

    In plain language the scholar said the US had “no legal right to protect non-state partner forces who are pursuing regime change or other political objectives”.

    Russia said the downing of the Syrian aircraft was “a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” “a flagrant violation of international law,” “assistance for the terrorists” of the Islamic State and “actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic”.

    Military experts believe it was an attempt by the US to prevent Syrian forces from reaching Deir Ezzor, and helping the Islamic State forces who are engaged in heavy attacks on the besieged Deir Ezzor garrison.

    According to the Syrian Observatory in Britain, often cited as authoritative by mainstream media news outlets, confirmed that no Syrian attack on the SDF had taken place. The US actually attacked the Syrian plane in support of Islamic State forces.

    The US plane, a carrier-based US F/A-18E Super Hornet, shot down the Syrian Su-22 over Raqqa province on Sunday. The American plane took off from an aircraft carrier, the George HW Bush. The Russian decision means US carrier-based aircraft will now have to fly over Russian anti-air sites which will be painting them as potential targets.

    If the USS Bush decides to sail further north and launch its aircraft into eastern Syria via Turkish airspace, it would mean that Turkey would have to grant consent. Ankara however, remains hostile to US forces joining hands with Kurds in the area.

    Meanwhile Syrian news agency SANA, said 12 civilians have reportedly been killed after US coalition jets bombed Tel Hayr village during a series of air raids on Sunday night in Syrian Hasakah governorate.

    Last week, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria revealed that more than 300 civilians have died because of US-led air strikes in and around the city of Raqqa alone since March.

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