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Australia suspends operations over Syria amid Russia-US row
June 20, 2017, 10:04 am

Russia says the US failed to use the deescalation cooperation utility even though Russian fighter jets were in the area over Raqqa when a Syrian warplane was shot down on July 18, 2017 [Image: Defense Ministry of Russia]

Amid growing tensions between Russia and the United States over the Pentagon’s downing of a Syrian Air Force fighter jet, Australia said that it is temporarily halting its contribution to the Washington-led coalition that was established to hit Islamic State positions in Syria.

Canberra’s move comes after Moscow announced that it is halting its deescalation cooperation – known as the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria – with the US military.

On Sunday, US-led coalition forces shot down a Syrian SU-22 as it was carrying out a mission over the Islamic state stronghold of Raqqa.

According to Russian media reports, Moscow condemned the shoot-down as a dangerous violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

The Russian military says the US did not use the the deescalation cooperation utility even though Russian Air Force jets were in the vicinity at the time.

The Pentagon said it shot down the Syrian warcraft because it was targeting the Syrian Democratic Forces militia, which is backed by Washington and its allies in the region.

The US military said it was willing to continue to cooperate with the Russians to avoid an aerial incident. Moscow, however, said it would now track US-led coalition air craft as “targets” if they operated in the zone west of the Euphrates River.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies