According to the State Department spokesman Turkey and the rebels it backs northern Syria had the right to defend themselves against Russia airstrikes. The rebels reportedly killed one Russian pilot who ejected from the jet hit by a Turkish missile.
Mark Toner gave a press briefing in which he illustrated US’ understanding of the current situation.
When asked by a RT reporter if the State Department considered the rebels who reportedly killed the Russian pilots ‘’moderates’’, Toner expressed an opinion saying that these ‘’’Turkomen’’ were actually being attacked by Russian strikes and they had every right to defend themselves.
The following question by AP’s correspondent Matt Lee asked whether this applies to everyone, including the ‘’Assad’s regime’’, not just the rebels backed by the West.
‘’What Assad regime was doing is not self-defense’’ Toner countered, arguing that the government in Damascus responded to ‘’peaceful protests with four years of terror.’’
When questioned again by the reporters of his understanding of the Syrian conflict as a ‘’peaceful protest’’, Toner rushed by saying that ‘’everyone in the room knew what had happened there.’’
He emphasized that Washington stands by Turkey as a NATO ally, and Turkey’s ‘’right to protects its sovereign space’’. He refused to comment on the incident with the Russian jet on Tuesday because by his admission, he had no details yet.
Toner also confirmed that the US was supplying TOW missiles. This was seen in a video purportedly showing the rebels destroying a Russian search-and-rescue-helicopter- to the ‘’moderates’’ in northern Syria who were supposedly battling IS forces.
He also made a revelation at the briefing on Tuesday concerning the ‘’de-confliciton’’ mechanism established between the US and Russia did not apply to any other members of the US-led coalition.
When asked again by the RT reported whether the State Department would condemn the rebels’ use of US- supplied missiles against a Russian rescue helicopter, Toner said that Syria was ‘’very complex environment.’’
Repeating that Russia was an ally to Assad and that it is directing airstrikes against the ‘’moderate Syrian opposition,’’ Toner said that we need to focus on the fighting against the Islamic State.