US says it shot down Iranian-made drone in Syria

Toni Houston
June 21, 2017

Russian Federation responded by saying its surface-to-air missile systems in Syria would hereby track manned and unmanned aircraft from the USA -led anti-ISIS coalition if they go west of the Euphrates River.

The latest stoush between with Putin over Syria began dramatically on Sunday when the U.S. shot down a Syrian jet in countryside south of Raqqa, a stronghold of IS.

It said the warplane was targeted in line with the "rules of engagement".

The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting ISIS militants in Syria retained the right to self-defence as Russian Federation warned it viewed any planes flying in its area of operations as potential targets.

The US-led global coalition later confirmed the incident in a statement, saying the armed drone was downed "after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces" that "were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS".

The United States said the Syrian army plane shot down on Sunday had dropped bombs near fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a USA -backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters battling to capture the city of Raqqa from IS.

The White House responded by saying it retains the right to defend itself and coalition-allied forces fighting the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow had asked for a "detailed explanation" of Monday's downing of a Syrian Su-22 bomber.

The SDF however accused the Syrian government on Monday of attacking its positions using planes, artillery and tanks.

Despite the increasing number of incidents, analysts say neither Syria's regime nor Washington now wants a major confrontation.

The U.S. military has repeatedly warned forces fighting on Assad's side to stay away from a "deconfliction zone", agreed with Russian Federation, near a garrison used by U.S. special forces and U.S. -backed militia around Al Tanf.

CENTCOM's statement that Syria had earlier attacked the "SDF-held town of Tabqa", and Damascus' reminder that it is still Syrian territory where the Americans are operating, may have played a role in Moscow's dramatic decision. "There could be problems between it and Soheil Hassan", said the commander, referring to the Syrian officer leading the government offensive in Raqqa province.

For the first time in two years, Syrian troops reached the border with Iraq, establishing a link with Iraqi forces that were advancing on their side, and outflanking USA troops and allied rebels in Tanf, near the border with Jordan.

A US fighter jet shot down a pro-regime drone in southern Syria near the border with Iraq. The Iranian-made drones can be armed or used for reconnaissance.

"It displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces", the statement said. "Now, Col. Fahd is in hospital and nothing threatens his life", the source said. Also, Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria.

Advances by the Syria-Russia-Iran axis offer the USA a way out of a bind over how to handle what follows the retaking of Raqqa.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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