United States shoots down pro-Syrian regime drone, military says

Frederick Owens
June 21, 2017

London [U.K], June 20: Australia has suspended air strikes over Syria "as a precautionary measure" after Russian Federation threatened that it would consider any plane from the US led coalition flying west of Euphrates as potential targets, following the USA downing of Syrian military jet.

The Iranian-made Shaheed-129 drone was shot from the sky in the same location where another pro-regime drone dropped a dud bomb near coalition forces before it was shot down by an unidentified us aircraft down on June 8, the USA military operation fighting ISIS, Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said in a statement.

The coalition statement said the location was close to where another "pro-regime" drone - which intelligence sources had also identified as Iranian - was shot down on June 8 after dropping bombs near coalition forces.

The drone, downed near a combat outpost in the town of At-Tanf, was the second one shot down by US forces in 12 days; the downing comes as Pentagon officials are working to defuse heightened tensions in southeastern Syria.

Australia's decision to suspend air operations over Syria comes after a United States fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane, prompting Russian Federation to issue a threat to coalition aircraft.

That incident led Russia's defense ministry to declare that it would track as targets any American or coalition aircraft that flew west of the Euphrates River.

A ministry statement issued in Moscow warned that coalition planes would be viewed as targets, and said a hotline for preventing accidental military engagement would be shut off.

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Tuesday's incident also comes less than 2 days after the US shot down a Syrian fighter jet after it allegedly attacked USA -backed fighters near Tabqah.

Suspension is "precautionary measure" amid rising tensions between Russian Federation and United States over downing of a Syrian jet. The drone was assessed to be armed and in firing range of US troops.

The incident came as Russian Federation once again protested against repeated US actions against forces allied with Syria and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the incidents could be "very dangerous" and cause an escalation of the war. Operating in both Syria and Iraq, the force includes about 780 personnel, including 300 service members who work in its air group.

Sharif told The Associated Press that the missile launch reflected Iran's "military power", though Iran has no intention of starting another war. It was not known what exactly was hit and Iran has provided no details.

"They were threatening our forces on the ground", the U.S. official quoted by AFP said.

American officials maintain there is no direct connection between the downing of the Syrian warplane and the Iranian missile strike on eastern Syria.

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