- Russia has suspended unilaterally a deal preventing mid-air collisions between Russian and US aircraft in Syria.
- Suspension has come in reaction to the US missile strike against the Syrian regime over the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province.
- Russia’s Foreign Ministry has claimed the US strike had been prepared before the events in Idlib had happened.
- It has reiterated Putin’s accusation that the US is seeking to divert attention from a civilian casualties caused by the US-led international coalition in Iraq’s Mosul.
Russia has suspended a deal with the US to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria in response to Friday’s US missile strike against the regime of Russian ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, because of a recent attack with chemical weapons purportedly carried out by his forces in Syria’s Idlib province.
On Thursday night (Friday morning in Syria), Trump ordered a strike with Tomahawk missiles on the Al-Shayrat Airfield in Homs province in Western Syria, a military air base of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in response Tuesday’s attack with chemical weapons which reportedly killed dozens of civilians, including many children, in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province, in Northwest Syria.
The missile strike was launched from two US destroyers in the Mediterranean, and struck the Al-Shayrat Air Base in Homs province because it was from this base that the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province was launched.
The US Department of Defense has said the missile strike has damaged Syrian aircraft and the air field reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.
Under President Vladimir Putin, in October 2015, Russia intervened in the Syrian Civil War, which started as “Arab Spring” civil unrest, rescuing the Assad regime from collapsing, and helping it crack down on the moderate opposition rebels, while avoiding focusing its air and missile strikes explicitly on the ISIS terror group (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).
Russia has suspended its “Memorandum on preventing incidents and ensuring flights safety during operations in Syria” with the US in the wake of the US strike on the Syrian airbase, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Friday, as cited by stated-run news agency TASS.
Under the aggrement, which was signed after Russia began an air campaign in Syria in September 2015, Russia and the US had been exchanging information about their flights to avoid incidents in the skies over Syria
What has been known as a “deconfliction line” between the US and Russia has been credited by a number of US pilots with helping with their safety.
The ramifications of the deal’s unilateral suspension by Russia are likely to be signification even though the US air campaign in Syria tends to steer clear of areas where the Russian forces operate.
“The Russian side suspends the memorandum on the prevention of incidents and on ensuring the safety of flights in the course of operations in Syria, concluded with the United States,“ the Russian Foreign Ministery said on Friday.
It also urged the United Nations Security Council to meet in an urgent session to discuss the current situation.
‘Before’ Idlib, over Mosul
Russia’s Foreign Ministry went on to accuse the US of preparing its missile strike against the regime of Syrian President Assad even before the chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province.
“It is obvious that the strike with US cruise missiles had been prepared beforehand,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“It is clear to any specialist that the decision to deal the strikes was made in Washington before the events in Idlib, which were used as a pretext for a show of muscle,“ it added.
“It is beyond doubt that the US military strike is an attempt to distract attention from the situation in Mosul, where as a result of actions by the US coalition hundreds of civilians died and the humanitarian disaster is growing,“ the Russian Foreign Ministry stated reiterating a point made earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Undoubtedly, the US strike is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul where hundreds of civilians lost their lives due to actions, including by the US-led coalition, and the humanitarian disaster is mounting ,” the ministry said, apparently referring to airstrikes in the city of Mosul in mid-March by the US-led international coalition.
The US military has admitted the possibility the said coalition airstrike may have killed a large number of civilians during the campaign of the Iraqi government and coalition forces to drive the ISIS terrorist group (“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”) out of Mosul.
“We will never agree to illegitimate actions against the legal Syrian authorities, who have for a long time been involved in irreconcilable war on international terrorism. In its attempts to excuse the military strike Washington utterly distorted the events in Idlib,” the Russian Foreign Ministry concluded.
In the wake of the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, the Russian Defense Ministry’s alleged that the fatalities in Khan Sheikhun may have resulted from the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bombing a rebel-controlled depot for chemical arms. The Russian allegations have been dismissed by the United States as well as countries such as Turkey and Israel.