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Syria: Australia suspends air operations as conflict escalates

21 June 2017

The Bahraini cleric wrote religious justifications for the enslavement of hundreds of women from Iraq's Yazidi minority and helped establish the IS branch in Libya. He rose to be one of the extremist group's leading ideologues.

All of the strikes, the Pentagon has said, were in self-defense and legal under the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Australia has deployed about 780 military personnel as part of the US-led coalition fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) in both Iraq and Syria.

A USA warplane shot down an armed drone linked to Syrian regime forces, the Pentagon said Tuesday, the latest in a series of incidents between US -backed forces and the regime of Bashar Assad that threatens to escalate the conflict there.

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The news from Australia, one of the coalition partners fighting ISIS in Syria, was described as a blow for the USA, putting it in a "very hard position" at a critical time as the battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa continues.

Russian Federation said on Monday it would treat USA -led coalition aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates in Syria as potential targets and track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the town, the Pentagon said.

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"There is a mechanism that is now suspended after the USA shot down [Syrian] aircraft". The U.S. argues that it does not seek to fight the Syrian government or its worldwide allies, and that attacks are launched in "self-defense".

Syrian opposition activists say a truce that went into effect three days ago in the southern city of Daraa has collapsed amid a government offensive near the Jordanian border.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the eastern neighbourhood of Jobar was struck on Tuesday by 12 airstrikes, adding that government forces are trying to push into the area. The 48-hour truce that had started there at noon Saturday was supposed to be extended.

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Syria: Australia suspends air operations as conflict escalates