The Pentagon is taking Russia's warning in Syria seriously
Don't be so quick to dismiss Russia's warning to the US about Syria's airspace. The Pentagon certainly isn't shrugging it off.
Not only is the Pentagon working to re-establish the deconfliction line, it's also reshuffling its own forces after expressing concern about "aircrew safety" in Syria.
Citing comments made by General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, AFP reports that the US is already working diplomatic and military channels in an attempt to re-establish the deconfliction line with Moscow. We doubt they'll have much luck.
Russia has suspended the deconfliction line before—but there's excellent reasons to assume Moscow isn't in a very forgiving mood at the present moment. Recall that Russia was warned beforehand about April's Tomahawk missile strike—allowing Russian and Syrian forces to prepare accordingly. Yes, the deconfliction line was later suspended, but that was more about political posturing. Frankly speaking, the deconfliction line allowed Trump to look "tough" on Assad while inflicting minimal casualties. In this case, the deconfliction line was immensely beneficial to both parties.
This time around, there was no warning about the shoot-down, and Moscow has obviously lost its patience.
And the Pentagon clearly understands what's at stake. Now without guaranteed safe passage over much of Syria's airspace, the US has been forced to "re-position" its 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," Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said "we are going to do what we can to protect our interests," adding that the United States would keep an open line of communication with the Russians.
Are the Russians eager to shoot down a US warplane? Definitely not, for a multitude of very good reasons.
But the Pentagon understands the severity of the situation—and has responded accordingly.
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