US military shoots down Iranian-made drone in southern Syria

Elias Hubbard
June 23, 2017

The U.S. action comes two days after a U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian plane that was attacking U.S. -backed forces near Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital.

The development comes as tensions rise in Syria with Russian Federation and Iran sending US warnings.

Dr Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa Program at global affairs think tank Chatham House, told CNN the ADF decision put the United States in a "very hard position".

"As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force (ADF) strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased", a defence spokesman said in a statement yesterday.

"ADF force protection is regularly reviewed in response to a range of potential threats", the Defence statement said.

The decision will not have a major effect on the air campaign in Syria, where Australia's F/A-18s do not fly.

Australia is part of a USA -led coalition that has been waging war against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Russia's decision came after the US confirmed it shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter bomber Sunday.

The Syrian plane destroyed on Sunday, a Su-22 fighter bomber, was hit after reportedly dropping bombs near the town of Tabqa in Raqqa province.

On Monday, Russia's defense ministry effectively drew a line across Syria west of the Euphrates River, saying that "all kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the worldwide coalition. will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets".

While Russia has demanded an accounting of the weekend incident, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov asserted on June 20 that the presence of US forces in Syria was "absolutely illegal".

London- Russia, US and Jordan agreed on a memorandum of understanding that includes the principles of establishing safe zones in Deraa and its countryside and the absence of non-Syrian forces in the area stretching 30 kilometers from the Jordanian borders, in a sign to "Hezbollah" and other Iranian-backed militias.

But if America has chose to use its air power to shoot down Syrian planes attacking rebels we support, this could lead to a confrontation with Russian Federation and a broader, more risky, and deadly war for the United States.

"There is a de-confliction mechanism in place with Russian forces to reduce uncertainty in this highly contested space and mitigate the chances of strategic miscalculation", the coalition statement said. The forces are a couple of kilometres from achieving this aim.

The U.S. military meanwhile confirmed Tuesday that top IS cleric Turki al-Binali was killed in a coalition airstrike on May 31, in Mayadeen, Syria. Note that the official statement does not say the bombs were dropped on the SDF fighters but near them! Also, Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria.

Are the USA and Russian Federation headed for a conflict in Syria?

Asked Tuesday whether the hotline was no longer being used, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said he could not discuss the matter beyond saying the US stands ready to use the line.

And on Monday, a US fighter jet shot down a pro-Syrian regime drone in southeastern Syria.

The Syrians, Russians, and Iranians want to test US commitments, whether it's by sending drones to al-Tanf or launching air raids against the SDF.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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