Breaking: US-Backed Free Syrian Army Group Shoots Down Russian Jet, Kills Pilot

By Daniel McAdams, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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The Jaysh al-Nasr rebel group in Syria, part of the US-backed Free Syrian Army, has posted footage of its fighters celebrating the shoot-down of a Russian Suhkoi-25 jet fighter in the Idlib province of Syria. It is the first time a Russian fighter has been shot down by Syrian rebels attempting to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The plane was apparently brought down by a man-portable air defense system (ManPADS) surface-to-air missile. According to press reports, the pilot ejected from the plane safely but was killed by the Syrian rebels on the ground.

The 2017 US military spending bill provided¬†authorization for the Department of Defense to arm the rebels with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles or ManPADS. At the time, the Russians vigorously objected to the dramatic US move to provide sophisticated weaponry to the rebels, claiming (rightfully it turns out) that “[t]he relevant decision also poses a direct threat to aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces…”

The scenario where a US-backed, US-supplied jihadist group in Syria uses US weapons to shoot down a Russian plane and then murders the pilot on the ground should be seen as a near-nightmare escalation, drawing the US and Russia terrifyingly closer to direct conflict.

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