World, Middle East

US downs 'pro-regime' drone in southern Syria

Iran-made drone shot down 'after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces', US says

z   | 20.06.2017
US downs 'pro-regime' drone in southern Syria

Washington DC

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON

A U.S. fighter jet early Tuesday morning shot down an armed "pro-regime" Shahed-129 drone in the skies over southern Syria as it advanced on U.S.-led coalition forces, according to U.S. Central Command.

The Iran-made drone was shot down by an F-15E Strike Eagle "after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces" that were stationed at a combat outpost northeast of at-Tanf, the U.S.' Middle East command said in a statement.

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.

The border town has been a flashpoint of conflict between the coalition and "pro-regime forces" as they seek to advance east towards the Iraqi border.

A similar shoot down occurred at the same site after what the coalition called a "pro-regime" drone dropped bombs near coalition forces on June 8.

"Pro-regime forces" could include Bashar al-Assad's Syrian Arab Army, Russia, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iranian forces, or irregular Syrian forces known as Shabiha.

More recently a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian Air Force jet over the weekend after it struck U.S.-allied forces, marking one of the greatest escalations since the U.S. entered the Syrian conflict in 2014.

The incident prompted a harsh response from Russia, Assad's chief international ally, which threatened to cut channels with the U.S. designed to prevent their air forces from inadvertently targeting one another.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are currently moving towards Raqqah in a bid to remove Daesh from its Syrian stronghold, are often accompanied by U.S. special operations forces.

Sunday's downing of a Syrian jet was the first time any activity by Russian or Syrian regime forces have seriously affected the anti-Daesh coalition.

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