U.S. shoots down pro-regime drone in southern Syria


          A U.S. fighter jet has shot down a pro-regime drone in southern Syria near the border with Iraq, the U.S.-coalition reports, less than 3 weeks after a similar incident and just days after the U.S. shot down a Syrian fighter jet. (more)

The incident happened just after midnight on Tuesday when an armed, Iranian-made Shahed 129 drone was said to be advancing on coalition forces who are stationed at a combat outpost northeast of At Tanf, about 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the border with Iraq.

A statement from the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force said the drone displayed "hostile intent" as it approached the outpost. "When the armed UAV continued to advance on the Coalition position without diverting its course it was shot down," the statement said.

The drone was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft at about 12:30 a.m.

Earlier this month, on June 8, the U.S. shot down another pro-regime drone in the same area after it dropped munitions near coalition forces. Tuesday's incident also comes less than 2 days after the U.S. shot down a Syrian fighter jet after it allegedly attacked U.S.-backed fighters near Tabqah.

"The Coalition's mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat," the coalition said in Tuesday's statement.

The recent incidents were condemned by the Syrian government and Russia, saying the Syrian jet was conducting operations against ISIS. Russia's defense ministry warned it will start tracking coalition aircraft west of the Euphrates River, calling the shootdown a "cynical violation" of Syria's sovereignty.

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov called the U.S. presence in southern Syria illegal. "There is neither a United Nations Security Council resolution nor a request from Syria’s legitimate authorities to this effect," he said.


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