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Tensions rise in Syria as Russia, Iran send US warnings

20 June 2017

"As a result of the attack, the Syrian aircraft was destroyed", the Russian ministry said Monday, adding that the pilot ejected over an ISIS-controlled area and his status is unknown.

Six missiles with a range of between 650 to 700 kilometers (400-435 miles) were fired from western Iran, soaring over Iraqi territory and striking the targets in Deir al-Zor.

The US military says they tried to de-escalate the situation before taking down the aircraft.

"The worst thing any of us could do right now is address this with hyperbole", Dunford said at the National Press Club.

The U.S. -led coalition shot down the Syrian army's Su-22 aircraft on Sunday after it claimed that Syrian aircraft had attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) positions south of Tabqah. "And we're going to continue to keep an open mind of communication with the Russians...it's important and crucial that we keep lines of communication open to de-conflict potential issues".

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Moscow warned Monday that it will track allied aircraft operating west of the Euphrates River in Syria as potential targets after the USA shot down a Syrian government warplane.

Russian Federation backs the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and the United States supports anti-Assad rebels.

Russia, which is flying its own air war in Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, condemned the incident and said it had shut off a special "deconfliction" hotline with the USA military, through which the two powers can warn each other of operations and avoid mishaps.

The ministry also called on the US military to provide a full account of why it chose to shoot down the Syrian SU-22.

"Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the worldwide coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia's air defences on and above ground", it warned.

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The U.S. -led coalition has taken a lot of pressure off regional powers, even though ISIS threatens their security and territorial integrity far more than it threatens America. The threat posed by the government plane forced USA naval intelligence to sortie out and shoot down the belligerent aircraft.

It appeared to be Iran's first missile attack overseas in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian conflict, in which it has provided crucial support to Assad.

A Government spokesman added: "Air operations continue and deconfliction measures are ongoing".

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said it was a "continuation of America's line to disregard the norms of worldwide law". "And we'll see if that's true here in the coming hours, because all of our operations in and around Raqqa and southern Syria are designed specifically to get after ISIS".

The developments give new urgency to a meeting set for later this week between senior US and Russian diplomats that were meant to focus on irritants in the relationship that are hampering cooperation in other areas, notably Syria and Ukraine.

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"The Russians clearly are doing a lot of sabre rattling right now, but the reality is that the United States has significantly superior air power in the region, and it would be extremely foolish for the Russians to pick a fight with the United States in Syria", said Nile Gardiner, an worldwide affairs expert at the Heritage Foundation think tank.