US & Russia Inch Toward Hot War In Syria

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Australia's defense chief says Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets will soon resume airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria after operations were suspended as precaution because a USA fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week.

A United States warplane shot down an Iranian-made drone operated by pro-regime forces in southern Syria early on Tuesday, officials said, in the latest incident in rising tensions between the two sides. Moscow also halted a military hotline with Washington over the incident, meant to prevent confrontations in Syria's crowded air space.

The U.S. has also fired on Syrian government ground forces in the east on two occasions in just the last month.

"We have never had a coherent Syrian strategy", said one USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We remain available on our end".

The U.S. military meanwhile confirmed Tuesday that top IS cleric Turki al-Binali was killed in a coalition airstrike on May 31, in Mayadeen, Syria.

The US military has repeatedly warned forces fighting on Assad's side to stay away from a "deconfliction zone", agreed with Russian Federation, near a garrison used by US Special Forces and US-backed armed groups around Al-Tanf.

A White House spokesman did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment.

USA forces patrolthe outskirts of the Syrian town, Manbij, Syria, March 7, 2017.

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A siege has been laid around the area and search operations are underway. No militant outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

"I think we're getting closer and closer to open conflict with Iran and Russian Federation, and the American public needs to know that we're moving very fast toward what could be another war inside the Middle East", Murphy told anchor Alisyn Camerota on CNN's "New Day", "something by the way that Donald Trump promised he wouldn't do when he ran for office".

Australia on Tuesday temporarily suspended its air combat missions over Syria after Russian Federation threatened that it would treat any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river as a potential target.

Australia has deployed about 780 military personnel as part of the US-led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) in both Iraq and Syria. It stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

Long-range Kalibr cruise missiles are launched by a Russian Navy ship in the eastern Mediterranean.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered weekend missile strikes on ISIS targets in Syria, Revolutionary Guards said, contradicting a previous report that they were authorised by the country's security council.

US intelligence analysts quickly concluded that Iran fired the missiles mostly in retaliation for a pair of Islamic State group attacks earlier this month on Iran's parliament building and the tomb of the Islamic Republic's founder.

Some Trump appointees saw Iran's missile strike as an illustration of Tehran's regional ambitions, which they have argued make it an existential enemy, according to the three US officials.

"A threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that poses a threat to Russian aircraft", Mr Ryabkov said.

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