Pentagon Still Communicating With Russia After American Downing of Syrian Jet

MOSCOW (AP) - A top Russian diplomat on Monday condemned the United States for shooting down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet the previous day as an act of "aggression", while US -backed opposition forces on the ground warned Syrian government troops to stop their attacks or face retaliation.

Russian military officials threatened to cutoff its hotline with the United States in response to an American Navy F-18 fighter jet shooting down a Syrian warplane on Sunday after the government jet dropped bombs near local forces backed by Washington.

The top USA military officer said Monday that Washington and Moscow are in delicate discussions to tamp down tensions arising from the US shootdown of a Syrian fighter jet, which the Russians called a violation of a U.S.

There are fears Canadian military aircraft operating over Syria could be caught in the middle of a new and potentially explosive dispute between the US and Russian Federation.

Russian Federation warned that it may treat USA -led coalition aircraft over Syria as targets after the shooting down of a Syrian government warplane, in an escalation of rhetoric between the two rivals in the Middle East conflict. The conflagration in Syria is starting to worsen as SDF fighters and Assad forces are slowly destroying ISIS positions in Syria, leaving no common enemy to fight against.

Moscow has only once before suspended the hotline, which was established in October 2015 to prevent conflict between the different forces operating in Syrian airspace.

Russian defense ministry said it will suspend an agreement between the us and Russia that worked to limit the risk of in-flight incidents between the two countries, The Washington Post reported. The Russians have provided air cover for Syrian Forces.

Meanwhile, the US -backed opposition fighters said Assad's forces have been attacking their positions in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action.

The dispute over the Syrian attack on the US -backed fighters and the American response came as Iran launched ballistic missiles at Islamic State strongholds in eastern Syria in retaliation for a pair of attacks by extremists in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people.

Iran said the missile strike targeted Syria's eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night and was in retaliation for terrorist attacks in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people.

But in a warning that the USA would protect its partners, Spicer said: "The Syrian regime and others in the region need to understand that we will retain the right of self-defense of coalition forces aligned against ISIS". The U.S. -led coalition said it acted in "collective self-defense" of partnered forces.

Meanwhile, Russian news agencies quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on June 19 that the United States should respect Syria's territorial integrity and refrain from unilateral actions in this country.

Just hours earlier, the USA had bombed Syrian government and allied troops inside a protected zone in that area and marked a sharp escalation in the skirmishes between the coalition and those pro-Syrian government forces there.