After six years of conflict, the Syrian Civil War looks like it might become a full-scale world war. If de-escalation is not swiftly enacted, the U.S. and Russia could find themselves with few other options than confrontation.
On Sunday, a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 jet. According to American sources, the Syrian plane had earlier bombed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the ISIS capital of Raqqa. In retaliation, Russia has claimed that it will shoot down any planes west of the Euphrates, presumably even American ones. (via Gateway Pundit).
More threatening still is the fact that Moscow has temporarily suspended the hotline that both it and Washington have used in order to minimize the risk of mid-air collisions (via Breitbart).
Various sources have reported that the Syrian jet, which was operated by pilots loyal to Bashar al-Assad, was in the process of attacking ISIS targets. Other reports claim the pilot had just finished bombing the “moderate” Syrian rebels.
From the American point-of-view, the Russian-made fighter had directly struck against the Kurdish-led SDF, who are in the process of retaking Raqqa from ISIS.
For their part, the Assad media claimed that the U.S. strike was a “flagrant attack” that would have “dangerous repercussions” (via BBC).
Renewed US-Russian tensions come as ISIS — an enemy of both powers — is on the verge of losing its two major cities–Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. In both areas, Kurdish and Arab troops have closed in and encircled the jihadis.
It should also be noted that the ongoing investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump administration may play a role in further souring Moscow’s relations with the United States.
Immediate attempts at diplomacy should occur in order to stave off any further escalation. Russia remains the biggest nuclear threat to the U.S., while its conventional military certainly has the capability to inflict heavy casualties.
Furthermore, Russia’s efforts against ISIS have produced positive results, although their claim to have been behind the death of ISIS’s “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dubious (via New York Times).
Frankly, the Syrian opposition is not worth a war with Russia. While defeating ISIS is noble and justified, propping up the forces set on removing Assad is not. The “moderate” opposition does not exist. It is nothing by a viper’s nest of Islamists.
The Trump administration should maintain its support for the SDF, while simultaneously working towards a greater collaboration between Assad and the Kurds.
Again, defeating ISIS would benefit both the West and Russia. A war between the US and Russia benefits no one.
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