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Insight: Syrians fear new Raqqa turmoil once Islamic State is defeated

26 Juin 2017

CNN has learned new details of Sunday's rare air-to-air encounter between a Syrian Su-22 fighter and two US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets in the skies over Syria, the first time a US warplane has downed a manned aircraft since 1999.

A US F-18 fighter jet from the US-led coalition hit a Syrian Air Force Su-22 warplane with an air-to-air missile on June 18.

The U.S. military's Central Command said the drone shot down Tuesday was a Shaheed 129 and appeared to have been operated by "pro-regime" forces, a term that U.S. officials previously have used to describe Hezbollah elements. In a recent statement, the USA military arrogated to itself the right to control the strategic area, placing multiple rocket launcher systems at the base and warning that it would not "tolerate any hostile intent and action of pro-regime forces", a stance raising concerns of further aggression from US forces unlawfully stationed in the Arab country.

Australia's military yesterday said it was temporarily halting air missions over Syria, following the shooting down of a Syrian jet by United States forces.

"Hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated", the coalition statement read.

The U.S. has also fired on Syrian government ground forces in the east on two occasions in the past month.

A top U.S. general said the country would work to relaunch the "deconfliction" hotline established in 2015, after Russian Federation said Washington had failed to use the line - a vital incident-prevention tool - before targeting the plane near Raqa.

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The Pentagon says its actions Sunday were within the rules of engagement and collective self-defense of coalition forces. "We continue to operate, making some adjustments for prudent measures", Davis said.

A U.S. senator has warned against the United States' measures in Syria, which is pushing Washington "closer and closer" to a military conflict with Iran and Russian Federation, describing the move as "another mistake on the scope of the Iraq War". USA officials said it remained uncertain as to who was operating the drones - Whether it was Shiite militia fighters, Syrian officers or Iranian advisers.

"And we have to understand what we're getting involved in, right".

"It's normal for a country to have control over all its territory", a senior officer from the operations room of forces allied with the Syrian government told news website Al-Monitor.

Immediately after the Syrian Su-22 fighter jet dropped its bombs, two American F/A-18E Super Hornets, flying from the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, engaged, firing a AIM-9 Sidewinder - a short-range air-to-air missile - at the Syrian plane from about half a mile away, two USA officials told CNN.

Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria as a precaution, after Russian Federation announced that it was suspending the hotline and warned the USA -led coalition not to fly over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River.

The move came after the U.S. shot down a Syrian Su-22 which, the Pentagon said, had bombed US-backed fighters battling IS near the town of Tabqa in Raqqa province.

Insight: Syrians fear new Raqqa turmoil once Islamic State is defeated