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US considering ‘military options’ against Russia in Syria – Pentagon — RT World News

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Washington and Moscow have argued over US drone flights in the country’s airspace

The US is weighing a military response to Russia’s presence in the skies over Syria, a Pentagon official told the Associated Press on Friday. While the Syrian government wants the US to leave the country, Washington insists it will fly its drones with impunity.

The anonymous official refused to state what options were being considered, but claimed that the US intends to “address increasing Russian aggression in the skies over Syria,” the news agency paraphrased.

Earlier this month, US Air Forces Central commander Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich claimed that Russian fighter jets “harassed” American MQ-9 Reaper drones over Syria on three separate occasions in a week. The Russian Air Force was conducting joint exercises with its Syrian counterpart at the time, and Moscow accused the US of violating restricted airspace with the drone flights, a charge that the Pentagon denied.

Syrian President Bashar Assad invited the Russian military to assist his forces in the fight against Islamist militants in 2015. Russia has maintained a military presence in Syria ever since, as has the US, which launched its own bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in 2014. The US also provided covert and overt support for dozens of militant groups opposing Assad’s government.

Russian military responds to US ‘drone harassment’ complaints

Assad has repeatedly called for American troops to leave Syria, but Washington refuses. Around 900 American troops are stationed in Syria at any one time, and the anonymous official told AP that the US will continue to fly sorties in the western part of the country.

According to the official, the “growing cooperation” between Russia, Syria, and Iran is aimed at driving the US out of Syria once and for all.

Regarding Iran, the US is sending F-16 fighter jets to the Persian Gulf this weekend to protect Western cargo ships from seizure by Iranian forces, the official said. Iran attempted to seize two oil tankers this month that it said were involved in fuel smuggling, but was prevented from taking one by the US Navy. One of the vessels was successfully seized and more than a million liters of smuggled fuel discovered on board, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

Tehran and Damascus have repeatedly accused the US of shipping stolen Syrian oil via the Strait of Hormuz. According to the Syrian government, 80% of the country’s daily oil output is taken abroad by “US forces and their supported armed groups.”

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