US fighter jets attempted to engage Syrian Air Force aircraft on Thursday in the northeastern city of Hasakeh, but a showdown was avoided as the government planes left before the Americans arrived, according to the Pentagon.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said on Friday that the US jets attempted to intercept the Syrian planes to protect American advisers, a term often used by the US military for its Special Operations Forces, who were working with Kurdish and Arab opposition forces after Syrian government jets had bombed the area.
David added that the incident was the first time American planes had been scrambled in response to Syrian bombing.
He said two Syrian SU-24 attack planes were leaving as the coalition aircraft arrived, so they did not engage in combat, but that the US would not hesitate to defend its forces.
Press TV reports:
He told reporters the US had warned Syria via its communication channel with Russia that it would defend coalition troops, adding the Syrian airstrikes “did not directly impact our forces” but they were “close enough that it gives us great pause.”
“We will ensure their safety and the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to do things that place them at risk… We view instances that place the coalition at risk with utmost seriousness and we do have the inherent right of self-defense,” Davis said.
The general command of the Syrian Arab Army said in a statement on Friday evening that Kurdish forces were “attacking state institutions, stealing oil and cotton, obstructing exams, kidnapping unarmed civilians and spreading chaos and instability.”
These actions required an appropriate response from the army, the statement added.
A US military official said in a statement later on that Damascus apparently dismissed the American warning as its warplanes again attempted to fly to the area on Friday.
“The presence of the coalition aircraft encouraged the Syrian aircraft to depart the airspace without further incident,” he said. “No weapons were fired by the coalition fighters.”
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