Saturday, 25 November, 2017

US says it shot down Iranian-made drone in Syria

Lillian Steele | 21 June, 2017, 07:14

In another sign of increasing friction between the USA -led coalition and the force backing President Bashar Assad, a US strike fighter shot down an unmanned "armed pro-regime" combat drone after it "displayed hostile intent" in southern Syria on Tuesday, the Pentagon said.

The drone shoot down comes amid heightened tensions in Syria following the shoot down on Sunday of a Syrian fighter jet that had dropped bombs on local forces backed by the U.S.in the fight against ISIS.

"The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 [unmanned aerial vehicle] was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces", the command said in a release.

The US said it shot down the plane to defend the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a rebel group which is fighting ISIS on the outskirts of Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in northeast Syria.

Tensions escalated on Sunday as the USA military brought down a Syrian military jet near Raqqa for bombing near US-allied forces on the ground, the first time Washington had carried out such an action in the multi-pronged civil war. That is where US and coalition advisers are supporting a force to fight the Islamic State.

The broadcaster said that the Russians added that any coalition craft flying west of the Euphrates River would be tracked and "considered air targets".

That incident prompted the Russian ministry of defense to announce that it would suspend the de-confliction hotline with the coalition which is created to prevent any accidents in the skies over Syria.

"ADF operations in Iraq will continue as part of the coalition". In a statement, the Syrian military described the downing of its plane as an act of "blatant aggression" on the part of the United States and accused the U.S. of coordinating with ISIS.

The move comes days after a USA fighter jet shot down a Syrian jet, and Syrian ally Russian Federation responded by threatening to treat planes from a US -led coalition operating in the skies over Syria as targets.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it was extended 24 hours.

Russian Federation accused the U.S. of failing to use the hotline before targeting the plane. Before downing the Syrian plane, coalition forces contacted "its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established "deconfliction line" to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing".

Earlier today, the USA military shot down its second unmanned areal vehicle over Syria in the past two weeks. Russian Federation has accused CentCom, the combatant command overseeing the Middle East, of violating the memorandum of understanding set up between the two countries in 2015. Prior to that shoot down, USA aircraft struck pro-Syrian regime forces as they advanced on At Tanf.

The U.S. -led anti-Daesh coalition has been training partner forces at a garrison located in at-Tanf, which sits on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

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