An informed source told Sputnik that “the soldiers of General Suheil al-Hassan (Tiger Forces) discovered and rescued the pilot of the downed aircraft. Now, Col. Ali Fahd is in hospital and nothing threatens his life”.
According to the source, the downed Syrian pilot was found around 30 kilometers (17 miles) South of Raqqa. The rescue operation was complicated by the fact that the pilot’s landing site was in close proximity to the positions of ISIL group which also searched for the Syrian pilot.
On Sunday, a Syrian fighter jet engaged in operations against the ISIL in Raqqa was downed by the US-led coalition warplane.
Damascus confirmed the report on Sunday, stressing that the US-led coalition has shot down one of its bomber during a mission in Raqqa countryside.
According to the statement, the warplane was carrying out operations against ISIL in the countryside of Raqqa when it was targeted, leading to a crash and the loss of the pilot, who is currently missing.
“This attack comes at a time when the Syrian Arab army and its allies are advancing in the fight against ISIS (ISIL or Daesh) terrorists who are being defeated in the Syrian desert in more ways than one,” the statement read.
The statement stressed that although such attacks seek to undermine the Syrian armed forces’ struggle against terrorism, they will not be deterred in fighting for stability and security in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The downing of the Syrian aircraft was confirmed by an official press statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led international task force against ISIL, which accused the Damascus government of targeting fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces.
“At 6:43pm, a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters South of Tabaqa and, in accordance with rules of engagement and collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet,” the statement read.
The statement stressed that its mission is to defeat ISIS (ISIL or Daesh) in Iraq and Syria and that the Coalition does not seek to “fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.”
Russian Defense Ministry also said on Monday that Moscow is halting all interactions with Washington within the framework on the memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies.
The Defense Ministry added that Russian missile defense will intercept any aircraft in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria.
Washington and Moscow signed the bilateral memorandum of understanding in October 2015 to ensure the safety of flights during combat missions over Syria.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during an off-camera gaggle on Monday that “Obviously, we’re going to do what we can to protect our interests.”
Spicer added that the “escalation of hostilities among the many factions that are operating in this region doesn’t help anybody” and they hope to de-escalate the situation by keeping lines of communication open with the Russians.
“We will always preserve the right of self-defense,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, a Pentagon Spokesperson said Monday that US pilots operating over Syria won’t hesitate to defend themselves from Russian threats.
“We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Capt. Jeff Davis told Fox News.
Department of Defense Spokesperson Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway also said coalition aircraft would continue conducting “operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for Coalition partner forces on the ground.”
“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace,” Rankine-Galloway added in a statement.
It is not the first time that the US-led intervention in Syria has led to standoffs and violence against pro-government forces.
As Washington claims that it fights against the ISIL group, US warships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Homs province on April 7, following a chemical weapons incident in Idlib province which the Western countries blamed on the Damascus government.
The Syrian government has fiercely denied using or even possessing chemical weapons since the country’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention was certified by international observers in 2013, as the world is still waiting for the US and its allies to provide any proof for its claims of Bashar al-Assad government involvement in the alleged chemical attack.
Also on May 18, the US-led coalition struck pro-Bashar Assad forces near al-Tanf in the area of an established de-confliction zone. The coalition air raids occurred near al-Tanf, where US’ and British special operations forces have been training militants near the border with Iraq and Jordan.
On June 6, the Pentagon announced the coalition conducted a new strike on pro-Syrian government forces as they entered the de-confliction zone with Russia and posed threat to its personnel. The force comprised of a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons, armed technical vehicles and more than 60 soldiers. At least two Syrian servicemen were killed and more than 15 injured as a result of the attack.
On June 8, the US-led coalition bombed pro-Damascus forces near al-Tanf in the area of a de-confliction zone following an alleged attack by a combat drone resulting in no coalition forces’ casualties. This was the third attack by the coalition on Damascus’ allies in the area. The coalition targeted a drone and trucks with weapons.
Furthermore, on September 16, US-led coalition aircraft carried out four strikes against the Syrian Army near the Deir Ezzur airport, killing nearly 100 people.