USA jet shoots down 'Iranian drone' in Syria


A USAF RC-135 aircraft is shown during NATO operations in 1999. GREG L. DAVIS Associated Press

A U.S. F-15E fighter aircraft shot down an Iranian-made drone over southern Syria on Tuesday, the USA military said, marking the second time this week that the us military has shot a pro-Syrian government aircraft out of the sky.

The U.S. military said it shot down an Iranian-made, armed drone in southern Syria on Tuesday, marking the third time this month that that the U.S. has downed aircraft affiliated with Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

"The coalition has made it clear to all parties publicly and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated", the statement said.

A US F-15 fighter jet opened fire on the drone in the early afternoon because it was approaching a USA outpost near al-Tanf where USA advisors were training an anti-Isis local militia, according to the Pentagon spokesman, Capt Jeff Davis.

Australia's military has temporarily halted air missions over Syria, following the shooting down of a Syrian jet by U.S. forces.

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 US troops and allied rebels in Tanf, near the border with Jordan.

The threat came after a U.S. Navy fighter aircraft shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday, an act that the Pentagon explained as a defensive measure to protect U.S. allies who are pressuring Islamic State in its stronghold of Raqqa.

Russian Federation on Monday said that it was closing the communication line after a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet downed a Syrian government SU-22 fighter-bomber on Sunday. That is where USA forces have been training and advising local Syrian Arabs for the fight against Islamic State militants.

Russian Federation said on Monday it would treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates in Syria as potential targets and track them with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

Moscow has accused the U.S. of not using the hotline to prevent the Raqqa incident.

"We believe that having a channel where we can de-escalate and understand each other's intentions serves a very good objective and we are hopeful that we can continue to use it", Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said Tuesday.

United States officials are trying to calm the escalating situation and said they wanted to relaunch the "deconflcition' hotline". This could out USA and Russian forces in direct conflict.

Following the shoot-down of the Syrian jet, the Pentagon insisted, "The Coalition's mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria". If we had clarified a month ago that the airspace in eastern Syria would remain under USA control, we could have leveraged our adversaries' fear of Trump's unpredictability to keep them out.

And two further incidents on Monday look set to heighten tensions between the US and Russian Federation further.

Beyond that, Buchanan wrote about a more potentially serious development - that conflict between USA backed anti-Assad forces and Russia-backed Syrian forces may lead to what he calls a "US-Russia Collision".

The Iranian drone that was shot down Tuesday was outside the deconfliction area, the official said.

Sharif told The Associated Press that the missile launch reflected Iran's "military power", though Iran has no intention of starting another war.

Some analysts believe Iran is attempting to establish a land corridor in Syria, linking its capital, Tehran, all the way to Lebanon, where its militant proxy, Hezbollah, operates.

Damascus says its plane was attacking ISIS.

The push by the Syrian government forces in the Daraa area appears headed for the Jordanian border, two weeks after Assad's troops reached the border with Iraq for the first time in years.

Raising concerns over what he called "a risky escalation", the lawmaker said it wasn't in American interests to get involved in Syria's civil war.

More than 320,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict began with anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.

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