While Russian airstrikes pound rebel-controlled parts of Aleppo in northwestern Syria, last Thursday saw U.S. jets scrambled to “protect coalition forces” from Syrian fighter jets in the northeastern village of Hasaka, according to state broadcasting service Voice of America.
“A city in northeastern Syria has become a flashpoint in the country’s civil war as Syrian warplanes attack Kurdish forces Thursday,” reports VOA, “and the United States responded by sending in its own aircraft to protect U.S. coalition forces in the area.”
A Pentagon spokesman said Russia claims it had no part in the Hasaka strikes and that, regarding Russia, “we made clear that coalition aircraft would defend its troops on the ground if threatened.”
Eyes have been on Russia of late, after it was revealed that Russia was using an Iranian air base to launch strikes in Aleppo, highlighting a cooperative military relationship between the two countries. The move prompted TIME to declare a new “axis of evil” of Russian, Syrian, and Iranian forces had arrived. Russia claims to have since stopped using that base.
As the story broke about U.S. jets scrambling in northeast Syria, Japan announced it was seeking a massive upgrade to its F-15 fighters that would double their payload capacity. China, which sees Japan’s arming up as taking an offensive posture, issued a warning to Japan weeks back.
Japan and China are contesting claims over an island chain in the East China Sea, the Senkaku Islands. And on Sunday, it was reported that a Chinese ambassador, back in June, warned Japan that it would be crossing a “red line” if it took part in “joint military action with US forces that is aimed at excluding China in the South China Sea.”
And as Russian-backed China and U.S.-backed Japan’s posturing intensifies in the East China Sea, China has recently announced its intent to strengthen military ties with Bashar al-Assad in Syria — just as its ally Russia has done.
Which puts the three global superpowers on the ground in Syria.
Meanwhile, Russia is accusing the Ukrainian government — led by the U.S.-supported Petro Poroshenko — of plotting terror attacks in Crimea, which elicited a direct response from President Putin himself:
“But I would like to turn to our American and European partners,” he said during a broadcast on state television. “I think it is clear now that today’s Kiev government is not looking for ways to solve problems, but is resorting to terror. This is a very worrying thing.”
Following his accusations, the Russian president announced war games in the Black Sea.
The U.S. support for Poroshenko shows little sign of lessening, however, as the Department of Defense, as recently as the end of June, was seeking approval to send additional military equipment to Kiev.
While all these events play out, Russia and the United States are purported to be hammering out the details on a joint military action in Aleppo.
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