Australia has announced that it is “temporarily” suspending the activities of its six warplanes partaking in the US-led air campaign on the Islamic State in Syria, as tension between the US and Russian military increases.
The statement from the Australian Department of Defense highlighted that the decision to cease operations is “a precautionary measure” as they continue to closely monitor the air situation in Syria before resuming their operations “in due course.” Australia’s warplanes are based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Russia had warned earlier this week that “all kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] of the international coalition, detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian surface-to-air missiles systems as air targets.” The warning came after a Syrian warplane was downed by the US because it dropped bombs near a US-backed rebel group in Raqqa.
An Iranian-made drone was also shot down on Tuesday by the American air force for allegedly displaying hostile intent and advance on the coalition forces. The Shaheed 129 drone was reportedly armed.
Kremlin stressed that “repeated combat actions by U.S. aviation under the cover of counterterrorism against lawful armed forces of a country that is a member of the U.N. are a massive violation of international law and de facto a military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”
UN secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for calm because the escalating tension due to the incidents that have unfolded could be “very dangerous.”
Russia and the U.S. are supporting opposing sides in Syria. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov asserted on June 20 that the presence of U.S. forces in Syria was “absolutely illegal” because neither the UN Security Council nor the Assad government requested their presence.