Australia on Tuesday said it had halted its airstrikes in Syria following a warning from Russia that it would target US coalition aircraft after a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane.
“As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force (ADF) strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased,” a Defence Department spokesman told dpa via email.
“ADF force protection is regularly reviewed in response to a range of potential threats.”
Australia is a member of the core group of nations conducting military operations in Iraq and Syria. It joined the US-led coalition against the Islamic State extremist group in August 2014 and extended the airstrikes into Syria a year later on Washington’s request.
Australia has conducted one of the highest number of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, according to Airwars, a Britain-based non-profit research group monitoring airstrikes.
Australia will continue airstrikes in Iraq, the Defence Department spokesman said on Tuesday.
The defence forces are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria, the department said, and they will decide on the resumption of air operations in Syria in due course.
On Monday, Moscow warned that it would treat all US coalition aircraft west of the Euphrates river in Syria as “airborne targets.” after a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane.
The Russian Defence Ministry also said it was ending cooperation on a US-Russian agreement that had been designed to prevent a direct conflict between the two powers in Syria.(dpa/NAN)