USA jet shoots down 'Iranian drone' in Syria

Elias Hubbard
June 24, 2017

Russian Federation accused the USA -led coalition of "complicity with terrorism" on Tuesday after an American warplane downed a drone operated by pro-regime forces in southern Syria.

CENTCOM announced that a US F-15 Strike Eagle shot down the Shaheed-129 UAV in the early morning near At Tanf, where Coalition forces are training Syrian militias to battle the Islamic State.

The incident has similar hallmarks to a June 8 downing, when a United States jet destroyed a pro-regime drone after it dropped what turned out to be a dud bomb near US-backed local forces.

The drone, downed near a combat outpost in the town of At-Tanf, was the second one shot down by US forces in 12 days; the downing comes as Pentagon officials are working to defuse heightened tensions in southeastern Syria.

On Sunday, a USA fighter jet downed a Syrian government warplane for the first time in the country's conflict south of Raqa, sparking an angry reaction from regime ally Russian Federation.

The incidents mark an escalation in the area around At Tanf - a base near the Syrian-Jordanian border manned by coalition forces that are advising an anti-ISIS Syrian rebel group.

Moscow has now suspended an incident hotline meant to prevent confrontations in Syria's crowded air space, and warned it could consider US-led coalition planes "targets".

"This is not just about managing the actions of Russian Federation and its allies, but also now the greater uncertainty over USA responses to tensions in the conflict".

The Syrian government SU-22 dropped bombs near the Syrian Democratic Forces. Activists and IS supporters reported his death at the time, but the military is only confirming it now.

The US military said that it will continue to shoot down "pro-regime aircraft" if they persist to pose a threat to coalition and allied militias. Iran's Revolutionary Guard described the strike as revenge for Islamic State attacks on Tehran earlier this month that killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 50.

According to her, under the previous US administration, Moscow quickly became a major military player in the Syrian conflict "based on a calculation that the USA -led coalition will not respond in a confrontational manner".

A spokesman for the Guard, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, said all six ballistic missiles hit their targets, citing "local sources" and drone footage.

The defence ministry on Friday said that IS this week has been moving forces into Hama province under cover of night and using large buildings there as command points and weapons stores.

"The situation is back as it was in Daraa city and fighting is ongoing", said Daraa-based opposition activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh.

It was observed heading toward coalition forces, who were outside the outpost, officials said. Also, Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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