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Australia suspends air force operations in Syria

Australia’s government on Tuesday said it suspended operations in Syria amid rising tensions with Russia after the United States shot down a Syrian regime jet.

The Australian Defense Force said operations ceased temporarily as a “precautionary measure,” adding a decision to resume airstrikes would occur when appropriate. Australia is a member of the U.S.-led international coalition fighting the Islamic State.

Air force operations in Iraq will resume, the ADF said. Though Australia operates in both the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, the air force mostly conducts operations in Iraq, particularly around the city of Mosul, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased,” the military said. “ADF force protection is regularly reviewed in response to a range of potential threats. ADF personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course.”

The U.S.-led coalition — named the Combined Joint Task Force: Operation Inherent Resolve — battling the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq carries out airstrikes against Islamic State targets and supports allies who are on the ground fighting the militant Islamist organization, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces militia and the Iraqi government’s security forces.

Russia on Monday said it was ending logistical military coordination with the United States and threatened to shoot down any aircraft west of the Euphrates River after the U.S. Navy shot down a Syrian jet. The coalition on Sunday said it shot down the jet because it was attacking the U.S.-backed SDF militia near Tabqah.

But Russia said the United States shot down a Syrian jet that was attacking Islamic State targets about 25 miles west of Raqqa.

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