My Way News – Syria’s skies crowded with multiple air forces

The skies over Syria are increasingly crowded — and increasingly dangerous. The air forces of multiple countries are on the attack, often at cross purposes in Syria’s civil war, sometimes without coordination. And now, it seems, they are at risk of unintended conflict.
The latest entry in the air war is Russia. It says it is bombing the Islamic State in line with U.S. priorities, but the U.S. says Russia is mainly striking anti-government rebels in support of its ally, President Bashar Assad. The Russians, who are not coordinating with the Americans, reportedly also have hit at least one U.S.-supported rebel group.
That opens the possibility, however unlikely, of the Americans and Russians coming to blows.
For its part, Turkey in late August began airstrikes in Syria as part of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition. Turkish warplanes are fully integrated into the coalition attack plan, as are those of Australia, which began flying strike missions over Syria in September. France also began bombing in September.
And Syria’s air force is also bombing targets within its borders, hitting both Islamic State and anti-government rebels, all of whom Assad has labeled “terrorists” with a broad brush.
U.S. and Russian defense officials held a one-hour video teleconference last week on ways to “de-conflict” Syrian airspace, or prevent unintended air incidents, including collisions. No agreement was reached. More talks are expected, although a senior defense official said Monday there had been no further word from Moscow, raising doubt about Russian intentions. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.
The introduction of the Russian planes in the crowded skies over Syria endangers not only air forces and military pilots, but non-combatants on the ground, as well.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has expressed worry about the possibility of “inadvertent incidents and lack of communication” with Russian air crews, although so far the Russians have flown mainly in western Syria, relatively far from U.S. and coalition flights in the country’s north and east.
The picture darkened further on Monday as Turkey’s prime minister vowed to protect the nation’s borders after a Russian fighter jet entered Turkish airspace from Syria over the weekend. The incursion, which Russia said was an accident, prompted Turkey to scramble jets to intercept the Russian plane. Turkey also lodged a diplomatic protest.


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