Tabnak – Although at the first days of Donald Trump’s presidency some observers were hoping for a kind of rapprochement between the US and Russia, the actual course of events has so far proved those primary suggestions to be wrong, at least as far as the Syrian conflict is concerned.
In the latest sign of escalation between Washington and Moscow in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry terminated its use of a military hotline for avoiding incidents in Syrian airspace, stating that it will now track all coalition flights west of the Euphrates River, Press TV reported.
"The command of the coalition forces did not use the established communication channel for preventing incidents in Syrian airspace,” the Russian ministry’s statement read.
It added, "As a result, it now ends cooperation with the American side from June 19 based on a memorandum for prevention of incidents and ensuring safety of air flights during operations in Syria, and demands a careful investigation by the US command of the downing.”
"Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia's air defenses on and above ground,” the statement pointed out.
In it should be noted that Russia’s latest move was a reaction to an American F/A-18 jet’s shooting down a Syrian government warplane south of the town of Tabqah on Sunday. It was the first time the American military had downed a Syrian plane since the civil war began in the country in 2011.
However, the United States will continue to conduct air operations over Syria, a spokesman for the American-led task force that is fighting the Islamic State said to the New York Times Monday.
"We are going to continue to conduct operations throughout Syria, providing air support for coalition and partnered forces on the ground,” the spokesman, Col. Ryan Dillon, said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. Colonel Dillon did not provide details on what air operations were underway.
At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Washington to respect Syria’s sovereignty and refrain from unilateral moves. "We call on the United State and all others who have their forces or advisers on the ground to ensure the coordination in our work,” Lavrov said, adding "zones of de-escalation are one of the possible options to jointly move forward."
In a report of the issue, Guardian notes that the growing risk of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia follows a decision by Donald Trump to grant his military chiefs untrammeled control of US military strategy in Syria. Tensions have also been bubbling between Washington and Moscow over efforts to dislodge ISIS from its Raqqa stronghold.
Russia has been pressing the US to make the removal of ISIS a joint land and air operation, but discussions over Syria’s long-term political future appear to have ground to a halt, leaving the US military to operate in a political vacuum.
However, the latest developments come at a pivotal time in the campaign to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa -- and as questions about what will follow the fall of ISIS remain to be answered. CNN notes that now, with the current situation on the ground, will come more questions, more uncertainty as anyone waits to see how US policy on Syria evolves as the facts on the ground change.