Saturday, June 22, 2024

Pentagon says considering ‘military options’ against Russia in Syria

The US is weighing a military response to Russia’s presence in the skies over Syria, a Pentagon official has confirmed. Damascus says the US presence in Syria is a violation of its sovereignty.

The anonymous official refused to state what options were being considered, but claimed that the US intends to “address increasing Russian aggression in the skies over Syria”.

Earlier this month, US Air Forces Central commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich claimed that Russian fighter jets “harassed” American MQ-9 Reaper drones over Syria on three separate occasions in a week. The Russian Air Force was conducting joint exercises with its Syrian counterpart at the time, and Moscow accused the US of violating restricted airspace with the drone flights, a charge that the Pentagon denied.

Syrian President Bashar Assad invited the Russian military to assist his forces in the fight against Islamist militants in 2015. Russia has maintained a military presence in Syria ever since, as has the US, which launched its own bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) in 2014. The US also provided covert and overt support for dozens of militant groups opposing Assad’s government.

Assad has repeatedly called for American troops to leave Syria, but Washington refuses. Around 900 American troops are stationed in Syria at any one time, and the anonymous official told AP that the US will continue to fly sorties in the western part of the country.

According to the official, the “growing cooperation” between Russia, Syria, and Iran is aimed at driving the US out of Syria once and for all.

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