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RUSSIA’S Defence Ministry warned yesterday, following the US downing of a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber, that it will treat US coalition planes west of the Euphrates river as targets.
Moscow called on the US military to come clean on why it shot down the Syrian plane over Raqqa province, where the Syrians say it was attacking Isis positions — the US claims the jet had bombed close to US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) positions.
Moscow has suspended co-ordination with the US in Syria over “deconfliction” zones after Washington designated zones unilaterally.
The ministry said that it viewed the incident as Washington’s “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the deconfliction deal.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that the downing was akin to “helping the terrorists that the US is fighting against,” asking: “What is this if not an act of aggression?”
The US military claimed to have acted in a “show of force” after pro-Damascus fighters attacked the town of Ja’din, south of Tabqa, held by its Kurdish-led SDF allies.
But a meeting convened by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of the YPG armed forces, at the weekend offers another explanation.
The PYD met envoys from the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates in the Kurdish-liberated area of northern Syria, where the international representatives urged the YPG and SDF to take full control of Syria’s border with Iraq once Raqqa is taken.
Syrian troops and allied militias met up with Iraqi forces at the al-Waleed border crossing on Sunday after Isis fighters were routed.
Awareness of the new US strategy, backed by PYD-YPG in the expectation that Washington will reciprocate by backing Kurdish national claims, has spurred the Syrian army to strike out eastwards to block any Kurdish advance to the border.
It took the town of Rusafa and crossroads of the same name in south-western Raqqa yesterday after commandos drove out Isis.
Rusafa is the junction of roads leading from Raqqa city in the north to Deir Ezzor in the south-east and this advance blocks the SDF from advancing south of Tabqa district towards the Rusafa oil fields.
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