News Analysis |
An American fighter jet on Sunday shot down a Syrian warplane that the US-led coalition said attacked its allies in the fight against the Islamic State group in the war-torn country.
“Aircraft from the international coalition targeted one of our fighter planes in the Resafa region of southern Raqqa province this afternoon while it was conducting a mission against the terrorist Islamic State group,” said the army.
It warned of “the grave consequences of this flagrant aggression”.
The escalation comes as Syria’s six-year-old war becomes ever more complex, with US forces and their allies converging on the northern IS bastion of Raqa in close proximity to Russian-backed regime troops.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces – an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters – is battling to oust the jihadists from Raqqa and broke into the IS stronghold city last week.
The escalation comes as Syria’s six-year-old war becomes ever more complex
Government forces are not involved in the battle for Raqa, but they are advancing in an area southwest of the city, skirting around SDF fighters, their eyes set on the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor.
The Syrian battlefield explained
The war in Syria is becoming more complex by every passing day. A number of international and regional players are now directly involved in this conflict making it an internationalized non-international armed conflict. Tens of thousands of people have become the casualty of this brutal conflict while millions more have become internally displaced and refugees. Various groups are now engaged in this complex battle, the most prominent of which is the Islamic State.
Tens of thousands of people have become the casualty of this brutal conflict while millions more have become internally displaced and refugees.
The Islamic State (IS), previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), came to the forefront at the end of 2013 when it captured large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq. The capture of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, the second largest Iraqi city, provided IS, a non-state actor with unprecedented power and influence unmatched by any terrorist group in history. The proclamation of a worldwide “Caliphate” in June 2014 by Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS lead to various Islamist extremist groups across Asia and Africa, pledging allegiance to the group. IS is now at loggerheads with every other player on the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields and territory under its control is now rapidly shrinking.
Another important group engaged in the Syrian conflict is Free Syrian Army (FSA). The group is backed by USA, EU, and GCC countries which provide it with financial and military support. This group controls Idlib province along with Al-Nusra front which is an Al-Qaeda affiliated group designated as terrorist by the US and the Syrian regime.
The Syrian regime is backed by Russia and Iran and is also supported by Shiite militias such as Hezbollah. The Syrian regime forces are at loggerheads with FSA, IS, and Al-Nusra but have so far avoided any confrontation with Kurdish-dominated SDF and YPG forces.
The video below explains who is fighting who in Syria and why.
This latest incident of shooting down of Syrian warplane by US forces comes at a time when the SDF is engaged in urban warfare with IS for the control of Raqqa while Syrian regime forces are gaining ground to link up with besieged government forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor province. This incident has the potential to escalate tensions between Russia and the USA where the former carries out airstrikes of its own in the war-ravaged country.