Russia suspends cooperation with U.S. in Syrian airspace following jet downing

Updated 2017-06-20 10:08:48 Xinhua

Russia on Monday suspended cooperation with the United States in Syrian airspace after the U.S.-led coalition shot down a Syrian jet on Sunday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that it "terminates cooperation with the U.S. side within the framework of the Memorandum on Incident Prevention and Aviation Safety in operations in Syria from June 19, and demands a thorough investigation by the U.S. command (into the downing)."

According to the statement, a U.S. F/A-18 fighter jet on Sunday shot down a Syrian Su-22 bomber, which was carrying out a combat mission in support of government troops conducting an offensive against Islamic State terrorists in the vicinity of Raqqa, the group's stronghold.

The U.S. Central Command said, however, that the Syrian plane bombed U.S.-backed forces and the action against it was "in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces."

In Monday's statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said it considered the downing of the Syrian warplane "a cynical violation of the sovereignty" of Syria, and "a gross violation of international law and, in fact, a military aggression against Syria."

It added that Russian warplanes were also operating in Syria's airspace at the moment of the attack, but the U.S.-led coalition didn't use the existing communication channels to warn the Russian military.

From now on, all aircraft and drones of the coalition detected west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by Russian air- and ground-based air defense systems as targets, the ministry warned.

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