Russian surface-to-air missile batteries are tracking U.S. warplanes in Syria after the country’s ministry of defense pledged to target U.S. aircraft, Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Corcoran confirmed to Military.com.
Russia’s threat to track and target U.S. aircraft in Syria came after a June 18 shoot-down of a Syrian regime aircraft which was bombing U.S. backed anti-ISIS forces. “Any aircraft, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected in the operation areas west of the Euphrates River by the Russian air forces will be followed by Russian ground-based air defense and air defense aircraft as air targets,” Russia’s defense ministry declared June 19.
Corcoran stressed that “as far as feeling threatened — I don’t think our forces have felt threatened by Russians or Syrians in the surface-to-air missile perspective.” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Colonel John Dillon would not confirm any Russian tracking of U.S. aircraft in Syria to reporters Friday.
Russian tracking of U.S. aircraft comes amid a flurry of U.S. shoot-downs of pro-regime aircraft in the month of June, marking a period of heightening tensions in Syria. The U.S. has also repeatedly bombed pro-regime forces attempting to encroach U.S. backed fighters territory. The U.S. is currently relying on these forces to retake ISIS’s capital of Raqqa.
Tensions skyrocketed further after the White House issued a late night Monday warning to the Syrian regime not to use chemical weapons. The White House warned Assad that he would pay a “heavy price” after U.S. intelligence suggested that preparations for another chemical weapons attack were taking place. President Donald Trump ordered an April 7 cruise missile strike on one of Assad’s airfields after a sarin gas attack on civilians.
Russia reacted angrily to the April 7 strike and June 18 shoot-down. Any further military action by the U.S. against the Syrian regime could prompt further military escalation.
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