Australia Halts Airstrikes In Syria After Russian Military Threat

The growing risk of a confrontation between the United States and Russian Federation follows Trump's decision to grant his military chiefs untrammelled control of military strategy in Syria.

The row prompted the Australian government to announce that it would "temporarily" halt its airstrikes in Syria.

Russian Federation responded by warning it would track aircraft from the USA -led coalition as potential targets over Syria and suspended a hotline meant to avoid mid-air collisions.

Three days ago, an US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 aircraft, marking a deadly escalation of the conflict.

The Syrian government forces' march toward the Jordanian border comes two weeks after they reached the border with Iraq for the first time in years. While the Assad government said the plane was on a mission against Islamic State militants, the USA claimed it dropped bombs near U.S. forces.

The Australian government said the break was labeled as a "precautionary measure" without offering further details. The Russian ministry accused the USA of a "deliberate failure to make good on its commitments" under the deconfliction deal between the two forces. A Syrian military offensive has unfolded on several fronts, coupled with Russian airstrikes and a show of force by Iran, which fired ballistic missiles on an IS stronghold this week and pushed militias that it sponsors deeper into the battlefield.

"The de-confliction line has proven effective at mitigating strategic miscalculations and escalating tense situations, and to be clear, we prefer to keep this channel of communication open".

"And we have to understand what we're getting involved in, right. It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy". Even if this were the case the plane could have been alerted to what it was doing and demands made that it stop rather than shooting it down.

That does mean he helps Assad fight the various rebel groups, including ISIS when and where it's necessary to achieve that goal, but the USA supports some of those rebel groups.

The U.S. military shot down the Syrian warplane on Sunday, saying it had targeted an American-allied, Kurdish-led force that is battling the IS extremists in their de facto capital, Raqqa.

U.S officials said the pro-Syrian troops violated a de-confliction agreement between Washington and Moscow and had "threatened" USA fighters and allied rebels.

The U.S. also has special operations forces and advisers embedded with the SDF, raising the stakes in the fight for the northern city.

The armed drone was determined to be a threat and was shot down by a U.S. Air Force F-15E after the drone "continued to advance on the Coalition position without diverting its course it was shot down".

A statement from Operation Inherent Resolve said: "Following the pro-Syrian forces' attack, the coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing".

The Pentagon insisted it was not seeking to escalate the conflict and had acted only after the Syrian jet in question had dropped bombs near USA partner forces involved in the fight to wrest Raqqa from Isis control. Note that the official statement does not say the bombs were dropped on the SDF fighters but near them! The Syrian pilot of the downed jet was able to eject and was rescued later by Assad troops. The RC-135 reconnaissance plane compares in size to a commercial aircraft and is used to collect all electronic transmissions from a particular area.

In an indirect reference to Iranian-backed forces that have been gathering in the eastern desert region, a USA -led coalition statement cited a recent escalation of tensions and said it would not "tolerate any hostile intent and action of pro-regime forces". Previously, it has been providing crucial support to Assad's forces.

The US-led coalition has shot down an armed "pro-Syrian regime" drone that it says was bearing down on its forces near a garrison close to the border with Iraq in Syria's southeast.

Turkey and the Kurdish fighters have come to blows on a few occasions in recent months, leading US forces to establish a buffer between them.

In an appearance at the US National Press Club, Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said US and Russian interests would both be served by avoid direct hostilities in Syria.

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