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June 20, 2017

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Russia says ‘may target US planes’ over Syria

RUSSIA said yesterday it would treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates in Syria as potential targets and track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

In a move that will fan tensions between Washington and Moscow, Russia made clear it was changing its military posture in response to the US downing of a Syrian military jet on Sunday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it was also scrapping a Syrian air safety agreement with Washington designed to avoid collisions and dangerous incidents with immediate effect. Moscow accused the United States of failing to honor the pact by not informing it of the decision to shoot down the Syrian plane despite Russian aircraft being airborne at the time.

“We view such actions by the US command as a deliberate flouting of its obligations,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. It said it expected the United States to now undertake an investigation into the shoot-down, to share the results, and to take corrective measures.

Calling the shooting-down a “cynical violation” of Syria’s sovereignty and a breach of international law, Russia said the US move amounted to “military aggression” against Syria.

“In areas where Russian aircraft are carrying out military tasks in the skies above Syria, any flying objects, including international coalition aircraft and drones found operating west of the River Euphrates, will be tracked by Russian land and air-based anti-aircraft ground systems as targets,” the ministry said in its statement.


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