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Tensions are on the rise between the Syrian government and the United States, who occupy large parts of the country, amid an increase in provocations by the so-called international coalition and a surge in ISIS attacks.
On August 8, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said that an MQ-9 drone of the coalition had made a dangerous approach to a Su-34 fighter bomber of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) over the northeastern governorate of Raqqa.
According to the center, the drone approached the fighter bomber “at a dangerous distance” of less than 100 meters.
On August 10, ISIS cells attacked a Syrian military bus near the T2 pumping station in the southern countryside of Deir Ezzor. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 33 soldiers were killed in the attack.
Fighter bombers of the VKS carried out a series of airstrikes against hideouts of ISIS cells near the administrative border between Deir Ezzor and neighboring Raqqa in an initial response to the deadly attack.
A day after the attack, on August 11, the Russian Center for Reconciliation reported that two F-35 stealth fighter jets of the U.S.-led coalition had activated their targeting radars against two Su-34 fighter bombers and two Su-35 fighter jets of the VKS over Syria.
Tensions increased on August 12, when the Syrian Foreign Ministry accused “the American occupation forces and their terrorist groups” of targeting the military bus two days earlier.
“This criminal and terrorist aggression” comes “in the context of the support and sponsorship of the United States of America for terrorist organizations, at the forefront of which is Daesh,” the ministry said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
On the same day, a shadowy Syrian armed group that calls itself the Popular Resistance of the Eastern Region announced it had attacked three bases of the coalition in the governorates of Deir Ezzor and al-Hasakah.
In a statement, the group said that its fighters had targeted the coalition base at Conoco gas plant in the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside with five rockets, and fired four others at the Green Village base in the al-Omar oil fields in the southeastern countryside of the governorate.
The group added that its fighters attacked a base of the coalition near al-Shaddadi in the southern al-Hasakah countryside with a rocket and a number of suicide drones. The coalition has not commented on these claims yet.
On August 13, it was reported that the Russian Navy attacked hideouts of ISIS in Syria’s central region with cruise missiles in a further response to the bus attack.
The current tensions could eventually lead to a dangerous confrontation between the Syrian government and the U.S.-led coalition. Damascus and its allies believe that Washington is planning to further destabilize the war-torn country.