The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria retained the right to self-defense as Russian Federation warned it viewed any planes flying in its area of operations as potential targets.
Activists say a “de-escalation agreement” brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in May has brought little relief.
Here’s a look at where things stand for the conflict’s main players.
“We’ve seen the same press reports regarding Russian statements on de-confliction in Syria”.
No country has invested more in Assad’s survival than Iran, which has sponsored thousands of pro-government militiamen from across the region and injected billions of dollars to keep the economy from collapsing.
Once that territory is retaken – and Islamic State militants are gone – the White House will have to decide whether it will continue to deepen its involvement and protect its partners against Assad’s forces and their backers.
The mounting violence around Raqqa and Syria’s eastern border region illustrates the difficulty facing the administration as it seeks to simultaneously accomplish several sometimes conflicting tasks: fight Islamic State, coordinate and defend Syrian rebel groups that are trying to overthrow the government, and counter the influence of Iran, which, with Russian Federation, has backed the Assad government.
The line has been a life-saving though imperfect tool since it was set up soon after Russian Federation entered Syria’s civil war in late 2015 to prop up President Bashar al-Assad.
Australia has suspended its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria as a precaution after a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week.
It could be bluster. The Russians appear to want to avoid further USA targeting of Syrian warplanes or ground troops that have come under US attack in eastern Syria recently.
Earlier on Monday, the US Central Command issued a statement saying that the downed Syrian military jet had been dropping bombs near US-backed SDF forces, which are seeking to oust ISIS from the city of Raqqa.
A similar incident occurred June 6, and on June 8 a USA warplane shot down a pro-regime drone in Syria after it fired at coalition forces.
“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to reposition aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrews given known threats in the battle space”, coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told CNN.
That was the same reason given for launching three airstrikes against forces loyal to Assad in the town of Tanf, farther south along the Iraqi-Syrian border, where US forces train Syrian rebels at a small military base.
Moscow is threatening aircraft from the USA -led coalition in Syrian-controlled airspace and has suspended a hotline meant to avoid collisions. “The balance of power in Syria is shifting away from Moscow and you are having a more assertive USA presence in the region”.
But its progress has alarmed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey, which views the main Kurdish militia in the group as an extension of the rebels that have waged a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey.
The attack drove the militia fighters from the town, so the USA sent an aircraft to roar over the battlefield in “a show of force” that stopped the pro-government forces’ advance.
The Syrian opposition, which once dreamed of sweeping into Damascus and toppling Assad, is now largely confined to scattered enclaves in the northwest and south of the country.
Beset by internal divisions, with some of the most powerful rebel groups allied with al-Qaida, it’s unclear what role the rebels will play as the conflict enters a post-Islamic State phase.