Moscow, Russia. The chances of American pilots getting killed far from home over land that is not in the USA and a war they were not invited to, just went up considerably. This is the first such US attack on a Syrian warplane since the start of the country’s civil war six years ago.

A real threat of direct Russian-American confrontation in Syria escalated on Monday after Moscow said it would treat any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river as a target to be destroyed.

The Russian Federation said it was responding to US planes shooting down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday. The US said its planes had acted to defend US-backed anti-Assad forces seeking to capture the Islamic State capital of Raqqa in north-east Syria.

The Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the US strike “has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law. “What is this if not an act of aggression? It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy.”

Ryabkov also said Russia would respond to the attack by suspending its communications channel with US forces, which is designed to prevent collisions and dangerous incidents in Syrian airspace.

The Americans were even more arrogant than usual;“I’m confident that we are still communicating between the coalition operations centre and the Russian operations centre,” Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff told the National Press Club in Washington. “I’m also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves.”

Asked about the legal basis for a US plane shooting down a Syrian aircraft in Syrian airspace, Dunford referred to the Authorisation for the Use of Military Force Act passed by Congress in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attack, which has been used as a blanket mandate by US administrations ever since for counter-terrorist operations abroad.

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