Russia has vowed to retaliate against any U.S. coalition aircraft that fly west of the Euphrates River after a U.S. Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday. According to Russian defense ministry statement obtained by the Financial Times, “Any aircraft, including the international coalition’s planes and drones, discovered west of the river Euphrates, will be accompanied by ground and air-based anti-aircraft defenses as aerial targets.” The Associated Press confirmed the statement shortly thereafter, noting its use of the word “targets” when describing “coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates.”
CNN reported late Sunday that, per a U.S. military statement, the American fighter jet shot down the Syrian warplane after it had dropped bombs on and near the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) near the town of Ja’Din, located in the northern central part of the war-torn country. The bombing was part of an attack by fighters allied with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which maintains friendly relations with Russia, and was intended to strike the U.S.-backed SDF forces’ stronghold in Ja’Din. The offensive ultimately drove the SDF out of the region.
According to the statement, “In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition-partnered forces, (the Syrian jet) was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet” following its bombing run. Syria, meanwhile, released its own statement condemning the incident as a “flagrant aggression,” and further evidence of the United States’ “real stance in support of terrorism.” They claimed the shot-down plane was actually “carrying out a combatant mission against ISIS terrorist organization.” The shoot-down was the first since American forces began fighting ISIS forces in Syria in 2014.