Earlier this week, U.S. forces shot down a Syrian fighter jet near Raqqa, where the SU-22 had been bombing U.S. backed rebel troops. Syrian Democratic Forces, have been in a weeks-long battle with ISIS in the region, as they attempt to take back control of the city. The Pentagon confirmed the incident on Monday.
Syria condemned the “flagrant attack” noting there would be “dangerous repercussions.” Russia, a close Syrian ally, also issued an ominous threat-warning they would target U.S.-led coalition aircraft. In addition, Russia has now cut off communications with the U.S. that aimed to prevent air accidents from happening.
“Any aircraft, including planes and drones belonging to the international coalition operating west of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian anti-aircraft forces in the sky and on the ground and treated as targets,” the Russian defense ministry said. They also refuted reports that the U.S. used communication channels before downing the Syrian aircraft.
Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, commented on the situation at a press briefing on Monday positing that the U.S. hopes to “de-escalate” the problem. “The escalation of hostilities among all of the factions that are operating there doesn’t help anybody,” said Spicer. “And so making sure that people understand while we want to de-escalate the situation there, that we have to understand that we will always preserve the right of self-defense.”
Russia has also claimed that U.S. actions have violated the sovereignty of Syria and stand in contrast to international law. “Repeated combat actions by U.S. aviation under the cover of counterterrorism against lawful armed forces of a country that is a member of the U.N. are a massive violation of international law and de facto a military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Russian Defense Ministry added.
Many fear the downing of the Syrian fighter jet will draw the U.S. deeper into the fighting between Syria and the Islamic State. With threats being issued from both Russia and Syria, that seems to be a realistic concern. However, the bigger question here remains the same and that is what is the alternative?