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Tuesday, June 20, 2017
US signals involvement in Syria could escalate
The United States is inching closer to involvement in the Syrian civil war after U.S. forces shot down a Syrian fighter jet on Sunday.
The incident is the fourth time in as many weeks that the United States has shot at pro-Syrian-government forces, and it carries the potential for further escalation — particularly with Russia threatening to target U.S. aircraft that fly into parts of Syria.
A statement from the U.S. military said it shot down the Syrian SU-22 in self-defense and after contacting Russian counterparts through the established deconfliction zone. The Syrian aircraft was bombing U.S.-backed forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) south of Tabqa.
It was the first time the United States has shot down a Syrian plane, and the first time a U.S. military jet has shot down any manned aircraft since 1999.
On Monday, Russia responded by saying its surface-to-air missile systems in Syria would begin to track manned and unmanned aircraft from the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition if they go west of the Euphrates River.
U.S. officials then sought to tamp down the tensions.
“The worst thing any of us could do right now would be to address this thing with hyperbole,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said during an event at the National Press Club. “An incident occurred. We have to work through the incident.”
Dunford also said the U.S. would be working to re-establish the “deconfliction” zone with Syria.
Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, said there is real danger to the U.S. as tensions flare.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has vowed to recapture all Syrian territory lost during the nation’s civil war, Ford noted in an email. READ MORE