Russia says US-led aggressive acts in Syria will be 'dealt with severely'

MOSCOW, June 19 (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday it would treat U.S.-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.

In a move that will fan tensions between Washington and Moscow, Russia made clear it was changing its military posture in response to the U.S. downing of a Syrian military jet on Sunday, something Damascus said was the first such incident since the start of the country's conflict in 2011.

The Russian Defence Ministry said it was also scrapping a Syrian air safety agreement with Washington designed to avoid collisions and dangerous incidents with immediate effect. Moscow accused the United States of failing to honor the pact by not informing it of the decision to shoot down the Syrian plane despite Russian aircraft being airborne at the same time.

RELATED: A look at Russian forces in Syria

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Russian forces in Syria
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Russian forces in Syria
Russian soldiers walk in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
A Russian soldier walks to a military vehicle in goverment controlled Hanono housing district in Aleppo, Syria December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian soldiers carry their weapons in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
Russian soldiers, on armoured vehicles, patrol a street in Aleppo, Syria February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
Men inspect the wreckage of a Russian helicopter that had been shot down in the north of Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, Syria August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rebel fighters stand in line past Russian soldiers (back) as they wait to evacuate the besieged Waer district in the central Syrian city of Homs, after an agreement was reached between rebels and Syria's army, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian soldiers, on armored vehicles, patrol a street in Aleppo, Syria February 2, 2017. Picture taken February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
A man looks towards a Russian helicopter as it flies over ruins in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A Russian soldier stands near a bus carrying people who came back to inspect their homes in government controlled Hanono housing district in Aleppo, Syria December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian soldiers stand near food aid being distributed to Syrians evacuated from eastern Aleppo, in government controlled Jibreen area in Aleppo, Syria November 30, 2016. The text on the bag, showing Syrian and Russian national flags, reads in Arabic: "Russia is with you". REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian soldiers and civilians walk along a street in Aleppo, Syria January 30, 2017. Picture taken January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
A Russian soldier drives a military vehicle in Aleppo, Syria December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian soldiers, on armoured vehicles, patrol a street in Aleppo, Syria February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Residents look at Russian vehicles in Aleppo, Syria December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian soldiers gather as rebel fighters and their families evacuate the besieged Waer district in the central Syrian city of Homs, after an agreement reached between rebels and Syria's army, Syria March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Russian soldiers, on armoured vehicles, patrol a street in Aleppo, Syria February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
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"We view such actions by the U.S. command as a deliberate flouting of its obligations," the Defence Ministry said in a statement. It said it expected the United States to now undertake an investigation into the shoot-down, to share the results, and to take corrective measures.

Russia is one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's most stalwart allies and is supporting him militarily with air power, advisers and special forces as he tries to roll back Islamic State and other militant groups. Unlike the United States, it says its presence is sanctioned by the Syrian government.

Calling the shooting-down a "cynical violation" of Syria's sovereignty and a breach of international law, Russia said the U.S. move amounted to "military aggression" against Syria and announced it was taking direct measures in response.

"In areas where Russian aircraft are carrying out military tasks in the skies above Syria, any flying objects, including international coalition aircraft and drones found operating west of the River Euphrates, will be tracked by Russian land and air-based anti-aircraft ground systems as targets," the ministry statement said.

The U.S. Central Command issued a statement saying the downed Syrian military jet had been dropping bombs near U.S.-backed SDF forces, which are seeking to oust Islamic State from the city of Raqqa.

It said the shooting-down was "collective self-defense" and the coalition had contacted Russian counterparts by telephone via an established "de-confliction line to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing."

Franz Klintsevich, a senior lawmaker on the upper house of parliament's defense and security committee, told RIA news agency that Russia would not automatically shoot down any object and that decisions would be taken on a case-by-case basis.

RELATED: Where in the world is the US military

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Where in the world is the US military

U.S .troops are deployed in hotspots around the world, including places like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Photo Credit: Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock/US Air Force

Here's a look at some of the most significant deployments for American soldiers.

In Afghanistan, approximately 9,800 US soldiers are taking part in Resolute Support, which aims to train, advise, and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions in their fight against the Taliban and other terrorist networks.

In Iraq, about 4,000 to 6,000 soldiers are taking part in Operation Inherent Resolve, which aims to eliminate the Islamic State. Only 5,262 US troops are authorized to be in Iraq, but the actual numbers have been larger for a while as commanders leverage what they call temporary — or "nonenduring" — assignments like the one involving the 82nd Airborne in Mosul.

In Syria, 500 U.S. special forces and 250 Rangers are working in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. The Pentagon is also mulling sending an additional 1,000 US service members to the war-torn country.

In Kuwait, about 15,000 soldiers are spread among Camp Arifjan, Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, and Ali Al Salem Air Base. About 3,800 soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team also deployed there late last year.

In Poland, about 3,500 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team are stationed as part of Atlantic Resolve, which seeks to halt Russian aggression. These soldiers will help train local forces and provide security, eventually fanning out to other countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary to do the same.

In Ukraine, approximately 250 Oklahoma National Guardsmen are training Ukrainian forces in support of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.

In Somalia, about 40 U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne division are assisting the central government in training its forces and fighting the terrorist group al-Shabab.

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

Of the U.S. Navy's seven fleets, three are deployed in or near potential hotspots around the world.

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Josue L. Escobosa/Released

The Navy's 6th Fleet is stationed around the Strait of Gibraltar; the 5th is by Saudi Arabia; and the 7th is near Japan and the Pacific Ocean.

 The USS Carney, Ross, Porter, and Donald Cook are part of the 6th Navy Fleet, which contains 17 ships and 12,638 sailors. 

The USS Bataan and George H.W. Bush are part of the 5th, which consists of 24 ships and 16,731 service members. The Bush is patroling the Persian Gulf, while the Bataan is south of Yemen. 

The USS Reagan, Bonhomme Richard, Carl Vinson, and Makin Island are part of the 7th, which consists of 53 ships and 37,935 sailors. 

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

U.S. Marines are deployed around the world to help counter the Islamic State. Some are also deployed in efforts to contain Russia and to provide security.

Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps

Here are some of the most important Marine deployments.

In Syria, approximately 400 Marines are taking part in Operation Inherent Resolve.

In Afghanistan, 300 Marines are taking part in Resolute Support.

In South Sudan, approximately 40 U.S. Marines are providing security to the U.S. Embassy. 

In Norway, about 300 Marines are stationed as part of a bilateral agreement between Oslo and Washington to undergo winter training and reinforce Norway's border with Russia.

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

While the U.S. Air Force is deployed in bases worldwide, the service most recently sent two F-35s each to Bulgaria and Estonia.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force/Osakabe Yasuo

This is where the Air Force has a significant presence.

Two F-35s were recently deployed to Bulgaria for training and "reassuring allies and partners of U.S. dedication to the enduring peace and stability of the region." Another two F-35s recently deployed to Europe and will visit multiple NATO countries in support of European Reassurance Initiative.

Four hundred airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing recently deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Twelve F-16 fighters are in South Korea to "help maintain a deterrent against threats to regional security and stability." Multiple B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers are also stationed there.

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

Here's a view from across the military. In total, about 69,300 troops are assigned to Pacific Command, with 41,990 in Central Command, 34,520 in European Command, and 9,150 assigned to Africa Command.

Though we've shown you some of the most significant deployments around the world, it's worth noting that these graphics are not all-inclusive. We've kept off most traditional bases and training exercises, for example.

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

Here is a chart of the significant U.S. military deployments worldwide.

There are some other rather significant troops deployed to support in other service members in hotspots.

Thousands of U.S. service members, mostly airmen, are deployed in Qatar, where the U.S. Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base is located. 

In Jordan, 1,500 soldiers, a squadron of F-16s, a Patriot missile battery, and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems have been deployed because of the war in Syria. 

About 7,000 US military personnel, mostly sailors, are based in Bahrain, which is home to the 5th Navy Fleet. A large number of US airmen also operate out of the Shaykh Isa Air Base, where F-16s, F/A-18s, and P-3 surveillance aircraft are stationed.

Elements of the U.S. 379th Air Expeditionary Wing are based in Eskan Village Air Base in Saudi Arabia, where the 5th Navy Fleet also patrols. 

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

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He said aggressive acts by such objects would be "dealt with severely," however.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was cited earlier on Monday by Russian news agencies as telling the United States to respect Syria's territorial integrity and refrain from further unilateral action there.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov struck a tougher line than Lavrov, telling TASS the U.S. action was an "act of aggression in support of terrorists."

Separately, Ryabkov told Interfax that the shooting down was a dangerous escalation and warned Washington not to use force against Syrian government troops. (Additional reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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