Tensions are high in #Syria after a US Navy F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian plane after it allegedly conducted an airstrike on US-backed rebels to the west of Raqqa. This is the first time a US plane has brought down a manned aircraft in over a decade.

Coalition sources say that the Syrian plane attacked fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed rebel group fighting against forces loyal to Bashar Al-Assad's regime. If this attack sets a precedent for the remainder of US involvement in the country, it could mark a turning point in the Syrian war.

Russian Response

The Russian Federation has condemned the attack, temporarily shutting down the military hotline between Moscow and Washington that has been used by both sides to avoid any direct military clashes between the Russian and American forces.

Advertisements
Advertisements

#Russia has also threatened to target any American or American-allied planes flying over Syria.

This is the second time the US has had any major direct military involvement against Assad's regime recently, the first being when President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airbase following a chemical attack conducted by regime forces.

"All flying objects, including planes and drones of the coalition, detected West of the Euphrates," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, "will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets."

In a telephone interview from Baghdad, Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the American-led task force fighting in the region told reporters that the US would continue its operations throughout Syria, "providing air support for coalition and partnered forces on the ground."

When Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces into Syria in 2015 to support Bashar Al Assad's forces, the US and Russia signed an agreement to use a hotline set up between Moscow and Washington to coordinate their air operations and avoid any clashes.

Advertisements

Russia has used this hotline as a bargaining chip in the past, threatening to shut it down after the US attacked a Syrian airbase several months ago. However, since then, American and Russian forces have used the hotline more frequently than ever.

American Perseverance

Monday, a Pentagon spokesperson told reporters that US pilots would do whatever they could do defend themselves from what they saw as Russian threats in Syria. The statement is a clear response the threat Russia gave US pilots operating in the area earlier that day.

"We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS," said Capt. Jeff Davis," but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened."

Syrian Response

Like the Russians, the Syrians have condemned the strike, claiming that their plane was only conducting operations against ISIS, not US-backed rebels. The statement given by the Syrian Armed Forces also claimed that the pilot of the Syrian plane was missing.

The Syrian military also says that the attack showed "coordination between the United States and ISIS," and that it was all part of a, "US-Zionist project in the region."

Iranian Involvement

Iran has long been involved in the Syrian war fighting on the side of the Assad regime.

Advertisements

On Sunday, Iran fired missiles at an ISIS stronghold in the Deir al-Zor province, which is said to be one of ISIS's last foothold in Syria.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders claimed that the strike was a response to a terrorist attack that occurred in Tehran last week. The attack in Tehran claimed the lives of 18 people.

However, others in the Iranian government gave different explanations as to why the military approved the strike.

"This attack... is a message for the supporters of terrorism in the region which are symbolized by the Saudi regime and the Americans," said Javad Karimi Qoddousi, a member of the Iraninan parliament.

Many experts say that the increased military involvement in Syria is a result of US president Donald Trump giving the #US military a more liberal role in US operations in Syria and against the Islamic State.