Last week’s Russian bombings against a US-backed Syrian rebel factions saw what US officials are describing as a “dramatic showdown” between US F/A-18 fighters and Russian Su-34s, as the US planes scrambled to try to chase the Russians away from a rebel base.
No fighting actually took place between the two sides. The Russian planes moved out of the area when the US planes arrived, but returned after the US planes left to refuel, and bombing the rebel garrison that the US was trying to protect.
US officials are presenting the strike as “deliberately provocative,” but Russia has insisted in the US never gave them the coordinates of the moderate rebels they wanted them to stay away from. Negotiations since the incident have netting some pledges of increased cooperation.
Both ISIS and the Nusra Front have been active in the area around Tanf, where the incident occurred, and Russian officials say they were under the impression that the rebels they struck were affiliated with the Nusra Front.
The US has disputed the Russian claims, but at the same time they have urged the Russians not to launch airstrikes against any Nusra targets anywhere in Syria, citing their close ties to the rebel factions the US are supporting.