MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Russia has threatened US fighter jets flying missions in parts of Syria.
The announcement comes after an American jet shot down a Syrian jet on Sunday.
“The Russian Federation has indicated that their purpose in Syria, like ours, is to defeat ISIS and we’ll see if that’s true here in the coming hours,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Russia made a very direct threat to the United States after the US military shot down a Syrian fighter jet Sunday.
Moscow warned that US jets west of the Euphrates will now be tracked as potential targets.
The US military says they tried to de-escalate the situation before taking down the aircraft.
“We made every effort to warn those individuals not to come any closer and then the commander made a judgment that there was a threat to the forces that we were supporting and took action,” said Dunford.
White House officials say they will work with Russia to re-open the communication lines in Syria but they warn America will maintain its right to defend itself.
“I’m also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves,” Dunford said.
Nick Heras, with the bi-partisan Center of a New American Security, says calm will likely prevail.
“The Russians do not want this conflict to escalate further where US and Russian forces come to blow,” said Heras.
But he adds that both sides are playing a game of chicken.
“The new Trump administration is testing Russia’s alliance with Iran and the Russians are testing the resolve of the new administration in the sense of how much it wants to invest in the new Middle East’s most difficult and brutal civil war,” Heras said.
Russia and the US are backing opposing sides in the ongoing six-year Syrian civil war.
The US has called for an end to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.
But so far, Assad has been able to maintain control of the government with help from Russia and Iran.