US seeks to keep communication with Russia over Syria ongoing – White House
“It's important and crucial that we keep lines of communication open to deconflict potential issues,” Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday.
While seeking to keep contacts between the US and Russian military ongoing, the US-led coalition emphasized that it retains the right to “self-defense” amid the news and added tensions, the spokesman added.
Spicer’s statement echoed the comments made earlier on Monday by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Marine General Joseph Dunford, who said the US is working to reestablish communications with Russia in Syria, aimed at preventing possible incidents between the two countries’ troops.
“We'll work diplomatically and military in the coming hours to reestablish deconfliction,” Dunford said at a news conference, adding, that the contacts between Russian forces in Syria and a US air operations center in Qatar were still open as of Monday morning.
Moscow announced on Monday afternoon the decision to pause cooperation with its American counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria following the coalition’s downing of a Syrian Su-22 warplane on Sunday.
“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated, condemning the downing of the Su-22 jet as a “cynical” violation of Syria’s sovereignty.
The US military did not use the communication line with Russia during the attack on the Syrian Su-22, despite the fact that Russian warplanes were in the area during the US strike, the ministry underlined.
Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov branded the attack on the Syrian jet as an act of aggression which in fact helped the terrorists the US says its trying to destroy.
The US-led coalition shot-down the Syrian Su-22 warplane on Sunday, when it was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) some 40km from Raqqa, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The US military, however, claimed that the jet “dropped bombs near” US-backed Kurdish SDF militants. The pilot ejected from the plane above IS-controlled territory and is still missing.
The recent developments in Syria, specifically the shooting down the Syrian Su-22 by the US-led coalition, as well as the Iranian missile strike on IS terrorists’ positions, heightens the risk of escalating the Syrian conflict, the UN warned on Monday.
“It does bring up more broadly a deep concern about the risk of possible miscalculation and escalation in the conflict in Syria. We believe that this risk is heightened when efforts to combat [IS] and other listed terrorists groups are not combined with a pursuit of a comprehensive political solution to the Syrian conflict, based on the relevant Security Council resolutions,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General told reporters at a news briefing.