SKY-HIGH TEN­SION

Rus­sia is­sues threat af­ter US downs Syria jet

New York Post - - NEWS - By MARK MOORE

Rus­sia de­nounced the down­ing of a Syr­ian air-force war­plane by a US Navy fighter jet as an act of “mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion” on Mon­day — and threat­ened to tar­get air­craft be­long­ing to the US-led coali­tion in the war-torn coun­try.

“Any air­craft, in­clud­ing the in­ter­na­tional coali­tion’s planes and drones, dis­cov­ered west of the river Euphrates will be ac­com­pa­nied by ground- and air-based anti-air­craft de­fenses as aerial tar­gets,” Rus­sia’s De­fense Min­istry said in a state­ment on Mon­day.

The United States said it was act­ing in “col­lec­tive self-de­fense” when an F-18 Su­per Hor­net on Sun­day shot down a Syr­ian Su-22 that had at­tacked a site near Tabqa oc­cu­pied by mem­bers of the Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces.

The SDF mili­tia is as­sist­ing the coali­tion in bat­tling ISIS fight­ers.

It was the first time the US mil­i­tary had shot down a Syr­ian war­plane in the six-year civil war.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the US would con­tinue to pro­tect its in­ter­ests, stat­ing:

“The es­ca­la­tion of hos­til­i­ties doesn’t help any­body, and the Syr­ian regime and oth­ers in the regime need to un­der­stand that we will keep the right to self-de­fense.”

Rus­sia, which backs Syr­ian despot Bashar al-As­sad, said the down­ing vi­o­lated in­ter­na­tional law and went against a 2015 safety agree­ment be­tween Moscow and Wash­ing­ton to re­duce the risk of col­li­sions in Syria’s crowded airspace.

“Mul­ti­ple mil­i­tary ac­tions of US avi­a­tion un­der the guise of fight­ing ter­ror­ism against the le­gal mil­i­tary of a state that is a mem­ber of the United Na­tions are a fla­grant vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law and con­sti­tute de facto mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion against the Syr­ian Arab Repub­lic,” the min­istry said.

“We view these ac­tions by the Amer­i­can com­mand as a con­scious fail­ure to up­hold their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties within the mem­o­ran­dum.”

But later Mon­day, the top US mil­i­tary of­fi­cer said Wash­ing­ton and Moscow were in dis­cus­sions to tamp down ten­sions.

In an ap­pear­ance at the Na­tional Press Club, Ma­rine Gen. Joseph Dun­ford, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sug­gested broader US and Rus­sian in­ter­ests would en­able to the two sides to avoid di­rect hos­til­i­ties in Syria.

“The worst thing any of us could do right now is ad­dress this with hy­per­bole,” Dun­ford said.

“I’m con­fi­dent that we are still com­mu­ni­cat­ing be­tween our op­er­a­tions cen­ter and the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion’s op­er­a­tions cen­ter.

“I’m also con­fi­dent that our forces have the ca­pa­bil­ity to take care of them­selves.”

The de­vel­op­ments give new ur­gency to a meet­ing later this week be­tween se­nior US and Rus­sian diplo­mats fo­cus­ing on prob­lems in the coun­tries’ re­la­tion­ship that are ham­per­ing co­op­er­a­tion in other ar­eas, no­tably Syria and Ukraine.

Dun­ford said the US-Rus­sia mil­i­tary hot line es­tab­lished un­der the 2015 mem­o­ran­dum has been use­ful, with the two sides in touch as re­cently as Mon­day morn­ing, but he also sug­gested communication was a prob­lem.

No, it’s not the Emer­ald City, but folks couldn’t get over the rain­bow cap­ping off this stun­ning view of the New York sky­line at dusk Mon­day.

FLY­ING INTO A RAGE: A US Navy F-18 fighter jet like these shot down a Syr­ian war­plane that tar­geted coali­tion forces on Sun­day. Rus­sia on Mon­day de­cried the US ac­tion as an act of “mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion.”

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