On Sunday, US troops shot down a Syrian fighter jet in the skies above southwest Syria. The United States, which is operating in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government, and therefore in flagrant violation of international law, released a statement claiming, incredibly, that the US-led coalition “does not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them.”
In response, Russia immediately moved to suspend the deconfliction channel between the Russian and American armed forces. Further, the Russian Ministry of Defense warned that US and coalition aircraft “detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets.”
The incident is but the latest in a series of recent attacks by US forces against pro-government forces in Syria.
As ABC News has reported: “Over the last four weeks, the US has conducted three air strikes on pro-regime forces backed by Iran that have moved into a deconfliction zone around the town of Tanf in southwestern Syria.”
The recent events in Syria represent a remarkable break from the policy candidate Donald Trump campaigned on last year, during which he repeatedly signaled his intention to work with Russia in the fight against ISIS in Syria.
And for this, it is worth recalling, he was roundly criticized by the US foreign-policy establishment. Critics such as Colin Kahl, a former Biden foreign-policy adviser, and Professor Hal Brands of Johns Hopkins-SAIS asserted that “cutting a bargain with Moscow to cooperate in the fight against the Islamic State would be a disaster for US security and influence.” According to Kahl and Brands, the “most likely beneficiaries of a US-Russia compact are the exact same extremist groups against which that partnership would ostensibly be directed.”