World, Europe

Russia ends safe flights over Syria deal with US

Moscow's move comes day after US Navy fighter jet shoots down Syrian regime's SU-22 fighter jet

19.06.2017
Russia ends safe flights over Syria deal with US FILE PHOTO

MOSCOW

Russia on Monday suspended a deal with the U.S. for crucial safe flights above Syria after an American military plane shot down a Syrian regime’s fighter jet the previous day.  

The Syrian fighter jet was short down shortly after it allegedly attacked U.S. partner forces on the ground.

The Syrian aircraft had dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces south of Tabqah, which the group seized from Daesh in May, according to an U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition statement that said the mission closely followed a "pro-Syrian regime forces" advance on the town of Ja'Din.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the shooting down of a jet in Syria's airspace was a "violation" of the country's sovereignty and international law.

"As of June 19, Russian Defense Ministry ended its interaction with the U.S. under a memorandum for preventing incidents and providing safe flights during operations in Syria," the ministry said in a statement.

"In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying objects, including jets and drones of the international coalition, detected in west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian ground-and-air defenses as air targets," it said, adding that coalition forces did not use existing channels with Russia to avoid incidents over Syria.

In Washington, the White House said the U.S. would work to keep the so-called "de-confliction channel" open with the Russian military. 

"Obviously it's important and crucial that we keep lines of communication open to de-conflict potential issues," spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters. 

"The escalation of hostilities among all of the factions that are operating there doesn't help anybody," he added, denying the U.S. and Russia are on the brink of war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday also urged all countries to respect Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 "We call on the United States and all others who have their forces or their advisers on the ground [in Syria] to ensure coordination in our work."

* Michael Hernandez contributed from Washington

Reporting by Hakan Ceyhan Aydogan; Writing by Diyar Guldogan

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