1. The Latest and Most Dangerous Escalation in a Six Year Civil War
On Sunday, June 18th, multiple media outlets reported that a US warplane shot down a Syrian fighter jet near Raqqa, Syria the known ISIS stronghold because US officials claimed they were bombing allied forces fighting the Islamic State nearby. The thing has been comparatively calm since January 26, 2011, but these past events in mid-June might prove out to blow this powder keg.
2. Russia is now Targeting US-led Coalitions in Syrian Way Zones
In fact, The Russian Defense Ministry condemned the U.S.’s shooting down of a Syrian fighter jet as a “massive violation of international law” and claims it will treat U.S.-led coalition jets flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as targets. Russia has also ceased its cooperation with US forces, which were put in place a few months ago.
3. This Could Be Really, Really, Really, Bad.
For reference, the last time the US shot down Syrian aircraft was in 2014 with a lame duck, push over President, who was reluctant to institute a no-fly zone over Syria 4 years ago. If there is further retaliation by Russia or Syria, things stand to get ugly with who we have now in office particularly. It will be interesting to see how President Trump responds to these measures and any possible retaliation by Russia. There is an effort from the US to de-escalate the situation, which is still less promising than it is surprising.
4. Are They Rebels or Are They ISIS?
CNN reports that Syrian forces were bombing ISIS in that area, but other sources also say that the US claims that SDF(rebels) were in this field and were affected by those strikes? Who is fighting who here? Let’s try to make some sense of all this: The US and its coalition forces (SDF) were fighting Syrian forces near Raqqa (Islamic State Capital), but at the same time, these Syrian forces were bombing the Islamic State. Right? When you look at the map, it starts to make even more, or less, sense. RT reports that the SDF were fighting Syrian forces around Tabqa (outside of ISIS Stronghold Raqqa), the Syrian forces were bombing ISIS reportedly around Raqqa. Why is the SDF trying to fight Assad at Raqqa, when they should be attacking Aleppo, where Assad is?
5. USA Response To Russia
US forces make it clear that they do not intend to seek conflicts with forces they aren’t targeting but will defend themselves if they need to. According to the Zerohedge article, diplomats don’t think this means war, although it isn’t very promising. Russia takes a similar stance to that of the US, albeit a little more strongly worded. US will keep fighting ISIS and back SDF coalition forces(along with Israel) to fight Assad, while Russia and Assad will continue to fight ISIS and the SDF.