A U.S. military official has brushed off Russia’s warnings that it will track planes in Syria with anti-aircraft batteries, following the U.S.’s downing of a Syrian Su-22 bomber.
In response to Russia’s warning Monday that U.S. planes flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria would be tracked both by aircraft and anti-aircraft batteries, Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Foreign Policy, “we will continue to conduct air operations throughout Syria.”
The Department of Defense, however, also stated the U.S.-led coalition will take “prudent measures” to “re-position” aircraft after the threats from Russia.
Dillon insisted that the F-18’s decision to shoot down the Su-22 bomber was in alignment with international law, though the Russian Ministry of Defense called the act a “flagrant violation of international law, in addition to being actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”
In its warning, Russia also stated that coalition aircraft “will be followed by Russian ground-based air defense and air defense aircraft as air targets.”
Russia’s ability to engage U.S. aircraft with defense systems like the S-300 or S-400 is questionable, as they’re located a considerable distance away from Raqqa, the Islamic State’s headquarters in Syria currently being blitzed by coalition aircraft.
A U.S. Navy F-18E Super Hornet took out the Su-22 bomber Sunday, marking the U.S.’s first air-to-air kill since the early 1990s during the Gulf War. The attack began after the pro-Syrian forces attack a U.S.-backed rebel group called the Syrian Democratic Forces southwest of Raqqa. The Syrian government insisted the Su-22 was carrying out a mission against ISIS.
“The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administrating terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region,” the Syrian regime said in a statement.
The F-18’s attack follows on the heels of an F-15E shooting down an unknown drone on June 8 that was believed to be pro-regime and hostile in nature.
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