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US says Russia not behaving in threatening way in Syria

24 Juin 2017

A USA warplane shot down an armed drone linked to Syrian regime forces, the Pentagon said Tuesday, the latest in a series of incidents between US -backed forces and the regime of Bashar Assad that threatens to escalate the conflict there.

Russia's warning came after USA planes shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday.

A Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the USA is moving toward a military confict with Russian Federation and Iran in Syria. The US appears to believe they are calling Russia's bluff, but every such incident raises the risk of Russia retaliating, and with the US having already directly targeted Syria's military once, another move against them especially would risk provoking a Russian reaction, which could quickly spiral out of control.

The incident comes after the U.S. shot down a Syrian fighter plane on Sunday and another drone earlier this month.

Bassam Abu Abdullah, a professor of International Relations at Damascus University, said the advances by pro-Assad troops undermined US plans in the area to sever a land corridor linking the capitals of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. The official said, "Russia would not want to be on the list of the countries that have said before that he was killed and then al-Baghdadi would resurrect".

The US has said it has "repositioned" its aircraft used in the Syrian conflict to "ensure the safety of our aircrew".

Like Obama, Trump has focused on Islamic State, leaving for later the question of Assad's fate and the region's mangled alliances.

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 warplane shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 that had dropped bombs near Syrian opposition forces. "We remain available on our end. Our most capable allies are the (Kurdish) peshmerga, but Turkey, who is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and host to an airbase that is central to our efforts, considers the Kurds enemies".

These battles are critical for Syria's future, Abdullah said, noting they will force the negotiate with the Assad government.

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Canberra temporarily halted flights on Tuesday after a spike in tensions between the USA and Russian Federation, which warned it would track coalition aircraft in Syria as potential "targets".

A White House spokesman did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment.

"I think we're getting closer and closer to open conflict with Iran and Russian Federation, and the American public needs to know that we're moving very fast toward what could be another war inside the Middle East", Murphy told anchor Alisyn Camerota on CNN's "New Day", "something by the way that Donald Trump promised he wouldn't do when he ran for office". "We're not close to that, but that's the strategy".

In another development, the USA military announced officially that coalition forces had killed the top cleric of so-called Islamic State (IS), Turki al-Binali, in an air strike in Syria last month.

The U.S. military on Tuesday said Russian Federation was not carrying out any actions in Syria that "cause us concern", even after Moscow said a day earlier it would treat U.S. -led coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as potential targets. It stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

Alongside Australia, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Jordan and Iraq are part of the US-led coalition combating IS in Syria and Iraq.

In another complication, Iran on Sunday launched ballistic missile strikes at Islamic State group targets in eastern Syria, the first time it has carried out such an action. Despite US assurances that strikes a few months ago against a Shi'ite militia in the country's southeast were a one-time deal, those strikes have grown increasingly common.

A second USA official said the use of ballistic missiles may also have been intended as a signal that Iran remains committed to supporting Assad and a reminder that US forces and bases in the region are within reach of Iranian missiles and ground forces.

"Our political system needs good, younger people to start replacing the old guard", 56-year-old old Sheila Champion said Tuesday, explaining her support for Ossoff outside her polling place in suburban Sandy Springs. "I don't think there's any real sense of what to do, beyond defending USA troops and partner forces".

US says Russia not behaving in threatening way in Syria