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Dutch send refueling plane to anti-IS coalition

20 June 2017

The Syrian jet was shot down on Sunday evening after regime forces engaged fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance battling against ISIL with U.S. support, in an area close to Raqqa.

In response to Russia's warning Monday that USA planes flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria would be tracked both by aircraft and anti-aircraft batteries, Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Foreign Policy, "we will continue to conduct air operations throughout Syria".

It said pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja'Din, south of Tabqah in northern Syria, wounding a number of rebel fighters and driving them from the town.

An SDF official told Reuters the Syrian army had been engaged in skirmishes in recent days with US -backed forces near the town of Maskaneh close to the borders of Raqqa province, much of which is now held by USA -backed groups fighting Islamic State.

The Pentagon says the Syrian jet was downed "immediately" after it dropped bombs near fighters from the us -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who had been holding a town west of Raqqa as part of an offensive against ISIS. US -led coalition troops, specifically the Syrian Democratic Forces, were fighting in Raqqa province in an effort to oust ISIS from Raqqa, which ISIS now holds.

Sunday's incident reportedly marks the first time the USA has shot down a Syrian regime warplane.

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But the Syrian military said its Su-22 fighter jet was flying a mission against ISIL.

Russian Federation has fighter aircraft, air defense weapons and other military assets in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad's government.

Until recently, pro-regime forces were focused on fighting rebels in western Syria but victories in Aleppo and elsewhere have freed them up to move east, pushing them into contact with the SDF.

According to the statement, "In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition-partnered forces, (the Syrian jet) was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet" following its bombing run.

While former Canadian diplomat Ferry de Kerckhove said it was unlikely Russian Federation would risk shooting down a coalition aircraft, Canadian or otherwise, he anxious about the increasing rhetoric and tension in Syria.

The US-led coalition is providing air and ground support to the SDF in their operation to oust ISIS from Raqqa. It said that several hours earlier, regime forces had attacked the SDF in another town near Tabqa, wounding several and driving the SDF from the town. "We call on everybody to avoid unilateral actions, to respect - I stress once again - Syria's sovereignty and to join our work which is coordinated with the Syrian government".

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Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the Russian Senate's defense committee, said the attack was a "blunt act of aggression and provocation".

"The regime's forces have mounted large-scale attacks using planes, artillery, and tanks since June 17", Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Talal Selo said in a statement.

US -backed opposition fighters said Assad's forces have been attacking them in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action. The shoot-down was the first since American forces began fighting ISIS forces in Syria in 2014.

The one-sided dogfight on Sunday drove the biggest wedge yet between the Kremlin and Washington during the five-year-old civil war in Syria, where millions of noncombatants have been uprooted.

"The only actions we have taken against pro-regime forces in Syria ... have been in self-defense", he said.

Iranian officials threatened more strikes.

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Dutch send refueling plane to anti-IS coalition