19 June 2017   Leave a comment

A US aircraft shot down a Syrian government aircraft near the Syrian city of Raqqa.  According to the US Central Command:

“At approximately 4:30 p.m. Syria time, June 18, Pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din, South of Tabqah, wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town.

“Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the SDF-controlled town.

“Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the Coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing.

“At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet.

“Ja’Din sits approximately two kilometers north of an established East-West SDF-Syrian Regime de-confliction area.”

The report does not say whether an American pilot was flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet but we should assume that it was not an American pilot.  The “de-confliction” area (a very awkward word) refers to an area where the opposing forces (primarily the US and Russia) have agreed not to fire on each other.  The Syrian Democratic Forces consist of:

“The Syrian Democratic Forces (Kurdish name: Hêzên Sûriya Demokratîk‎, arabic name: قوات سوريا الديمقراطية‎), usually shortened as SDF or QSD, are an alliance of Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen, Assyrian and Armenian militias mainly fighting against ISIS, Al-Nusra Front and other Jihadist groups in the Syrian Civil War.  The goal of the group is to establish and protect the federal region ‘Rojava – Northern Syria’.”

The strike represents a significant escalation of the conflict.  There appears to be an interest in some circles of the Trump Administration to increase the American role in the conflict.  According to Foreign Policy:

“Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

In response, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation issued the following statement on its Facebook Page (you have no idea how hard it is for me to type that out–Bismarck is rolling over in his grave):

“Statement of the Russian defence ministry fact downing of thunder in a Syrian Village Al-Rasafe Su-22 aircraft Syrian Air Force:

“On 18 June 2017 G. American F-18 fighter from the international coalition missile-air plane ” SU-22 Syrian air force, as the support units of government troops, leading offensive against ISIS terrorists, in the town of al-rasafe (40 kilometers southwest of g. Raqqa).

“Striking a Syrian aircraft was destroyed. Syrian air force pilot ejected over the area controlled by ISIS, terrorists, his fate is unknown.

“Syrian air force aircraft destroying American Aviation in Syrian airspace, cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic.

“Repeated Hostilities Aviation USA under the guise of “fighting terrorism” against the legitimate armed forces United Nations Member States, are a flagrant violation of international law and in fact – military aggression towards the Syrian Arab Republic.

“Moreover, the Syrian air space at a given time, the tasks of Russian aircraft of the code. However, coalition forces not utilized an existing channel of communication between air commands airbase el udeyd (Qatar) and hmeymim airbase to prevent incidents in Syrian air space.

“Consider this action U.S. military commanders as wilful failure to comply with its obligations under the memorandum of the prevention of incidents and ensure flight safety aviation during operations in Syria, dated 20 October 2015 G.

“The Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation from 19 June this year. Ceases to interaction with the American side in the framework of the memorandum on the prevention of incidents and ensure flight safety aviation during operations in Syria, and requires a thorough investigation into the American command with providing information about its results and the measures taken.”

“In areas of non-Combat-capable of Russian aircraft in the sky of Syria any aerial installations, including planes and unmanned international coalition found west of r. Euphrates will be taken in by Russian escort aircraft ground and air defence as air targets “.

Sputnik, a Russian-government controlled media offers an idea of the defensive capabilities of the Russian military in Syria–they are formidable.

,The Iranians have also escalated their role in the conflict by launching a missile strike against Daesh (Islamic State) forces in Syria.  The strikes were in retaliation for the Daesh attack on the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran.

To make matters more complicated, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Israel has been giving money and military assistance to Sunni rebels in Syria for the last four years.  Israel has conducted air raids against forces in Syria to prevent the flow of arms to Hezbollah, an Iranian backed group in Syria opposed to the existence of the state of Israel.  But this report may serve to legitimize some of the rebels fighting against Assad and will certainly feed the Iranian propaganda war against those opposed to Assad.

Finally, the Saudi Arabian Press Agency is reporting that the Saudi military foiled an attack by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the Marjan offshore oil field, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil fields. According to the Saudis, three Iranians were captured in a vessel carrying explosives.  If this report is true, then it represents a very serious escalation of the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Posted June 19, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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