Australia said Thursday it had lifted a suspension of its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria that was imposed amid tensions with Russian Federation after a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane this week.
The Australian Defense Force is fighting IS in both Syria and Iraq under the name 'Operation OKRA.' Australian Defence Force Chief Mark Binskin said on Wednesday the operations were halted while the Australians examined what was happening in what he had described as a "complex piece of airspace" over Syria.
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Russian Federation warned on Monday that it would track coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft, but it stopped short of openly saying it would shoot them down. No reason for the suspension was given, but The Australian newspaper said it was implemented as a precaution after the jet's downing.
On Sunday, US aircraft shot down a Syrian government jet that was bombing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions south of Raqqa, in eastern Syria. "ADF operations in Iraq will continue as part of the coalition".
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Consequently, the Russian military halted cooperation with its USA counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria. Australia's Air Task Group consists of 300 personnel, six F/A-18 Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker and Transport plane. Attacking a Syrian military target inside Syria eliminated the disconnect between forces the U.S. is targeting, and forces Russia's military are directly allied with. A witness and two insurgents in Deraa said the army and its allies had resumed air and artillery bombardments in the city and the narrow strip of countryside separating it from the border.
Tanf is the town on Syrian border with Jordan where USA troops are training Syrian rebels, officially described as "partner ground forces".
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