The United States is considering a military response to Russia’s presence in the skies over Syria, according to a Pentagon official. Despite calls from the Syrian government for the US to leave the country, Washington remains determined to fly its drones in Syrian airspace without any restrictions.
The anonymous official did not disclose specific options being considered, but stated that the US plans to address the increasing aggression by Russia in the skies over Syria. This comes after US Air Forces Central commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich accused Russian fighter jets of harassing American MQ-9 Reaper drones on three separate occasions in a week. These incidents occurred while the Russian Air Force was conducting joint exercises with its Syrian counterpart, and Moscow accused the US of violating restricted airspace.
In 2015, Syrian President Bashar Assad invited the Russian military to assist in the fight against Islamist militants. Since then, both Russia and the US have maintained a military presence in Syria. While the US launched its own bombing campaign against ISIS in 2014, it has also provided support to various militant groups opposing Assad’s government.
Assad has continuously called for the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, but the US has refused to comply. Currently, around 900 American troops are stationed in the country, and the anonymous official confirmed that the US will continue to conduct sorties in the western part of Syria.
The official also highlighted the growing cooperation between Russia, Syria, and Iran, stating that their aim is to drive the US out of Syria permanently. This development further complicates the already tense situation in the region.
In addition to the tensions in Syria, the US is also deploying F-16 fighter jets to the Persian Gulf to protect Western cargo ships from seizure by Iranian forces. Iran recently attempted to seize two oil tankers involved in fuel smuggling, but was foiled by the US Navy. One tanker, however, was successfully seized, and over a million liters of smuggled fuel were discovered on board.
Tehran and Damascus have accused the US of shipping stolen Syrian oil through the Strait of Hormuz. According to the Syrian government, 80% of the country’s daily oil output is taken abroad by US forces and their supported armed groups.
These developing situations highlight the complex dynamics and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. The tensions between the US and Russia in Syria, coupled with the US-Iran dispute in the Persian Gulf, contribute to an already volatile region. The implications of potential military responses and the growing cooperation among Russia, Syria, and Iran remain uncertain, but they have the potential to further escalate the conflict and exacerbate tensions amongst these key stakeholders.