Russia’s defense ministry said it was suspending coordination with the United States in Syria over so-called “de-confliction zones” after the Americans downed a Syrian government fighter jet.
The ministry said in a statement that, starting Monday, it will track all jets and drones of the US-led coalition west of the Euphrates and treat them as targets.
“Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates river will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia’s air defenses on and above ground,” the statement warned.
Pertinent to note that Russia had already deployed its S-400 Air Defense System, known to the US and NATO as SA-21 Advanced ‘Growler’ Anti-aircraft Missile System in Syria and is believed to have started activating the same for action. Some of these units were initially positioned at the Latakia Airbase on the Syrian coast, but the present position and deployment is not known.
The United States has a standing agreement with Russia, which has been providing an air cover for Syria’s President Bashar Assad since 2015 in his offensive against the Islamic State group, that should prevent in-the-air incidents involving US and Russia jets engaged in operations in Syria.
The Russian defense ministry said that it was suspending the deal after the US military confirmed that it downed a Syrian Air Force fighter jet on Sunday after it dropped bombs near US partner forces.
The ministry said it views the incident as Washington’s “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the de-confliction deal and called on the US military to provide a full account of why it decided to shoot down the Syrian SU-22.
“The command of the coalition forces did not use the established communication channel for preventing incidents in Syrian airspace,” it said, adding Moscow “ends cooperation (regarding the channel) with the American side from June 19.”
In April, Russia had also said it was suspending its use of the Syria hotline after US forces struck a Syrian airbase, but the communications had continued.