The Pentagon has reported that a US Navy F-18 fighter plane has shot down a Syrian SU-22 ground attack aircraft after the Syrian pilot attacked SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) on Sunday. The US-led SDF have been advised by US Special Operations forces, however, it isn’t known if any US troops were present when attacked by the Syrian jet.
The US has sought to avoid direct conflict with the Syrian forces of embattled President Assad, focusing instead on battling and removing the Islamist State (IS) forces. Once the Syrian pilot ignored warnings to turn away, however, it was quickly shot down.
The U.S.-led coalition also contacted their Russian counterparts in an effort to warn the pro-Assad forces to refrain from attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Syrians appeared to ignore the request and a Syrian SU-22 dropped bombs on the SDF fighters. The Syrian plane was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet.
The U.S. military has said it does not want to engage in a conflict with the Assad regime and is focused on defeating the Islamic State. But the U.S. military said it would defend U.S.-backed forces when necessary.
“The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat,” the U.S. military said in a statement.
Iran and Russia are supporting the Assad regime and has deployed forces in Syria.
The U.S. military has several hundred advisers operating with Syrian Democratic Forces, which it is also supplying the organization with weapons and equipment.
After the downing of the Russian-made SU-22 north of Raqqa around the city of Tabqah, the Russian military has stated that they will treat any US or coalition aircraft operating west of the Euphrates River as targets.
“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 Ministry of Defense said in a statement Monday
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Photo courtesy US Navy