Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

US shoots down drone close to Iraqi-Syrian border

Andrew Cummings | 24 June, 2017, 01:36

"From now on, in areas where Russian aviation performs combat missions in the skies of Syria, any airborne objects found west of the Euphrates River, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles belonging to the worldwide coalition, tracked by means of Russian land and air anti-aircraft defense, will be considered air targets", CNN reported citing the Defense Ministry statement.

The two latest shoot downs, in addition to the one on June 8, has raised questions over whether the U.S.is getting drawn into a war with Russian Federation or Syria, rather than just with ISIS.

Australian Defence Force Chief Mark Binskin said on Wednesday the operations were halted while the Australians examined what was happening in what he had described as a "complex piece of airspace" over Syria.

On Wednesday, Binskin told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that, as publicly-accessible ADF reports have shown, recent Australian air strikes have been occurring in Iraq and not in Syria.

Australia is part of a USA -led coalition that has been waging war against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

The US-led coalition conducted what the Pentagon said was a "show of force" - a reported buzzing of the pro-government troops by jets - to stop the attack and then called the Syrian government's ally, Russia, to try to "de-escalate the situation and stop the firing".

The Pentagon statement said the coalition did "not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat".

"The F15 intercepted the armed UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] after it was observed advancing on coalition positions".

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Those local forces, which the USA calls the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, are now fighting to recapture the extremists' self-declared capital of Raqqa.

That move elicited a round of threats from Russia's defense ministry, which indicated it could shoot down the next US jet flying west of the Euphrates River, and raised fresh concerns over the expanded nature of USA involvement in Syria's protracted six year war.

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

The Syrian army said the plane was hit while on a mission against IS Jihadists and warned of "the grave consequences of this flagrant aggression".

Davis said the USA did not attempt to dissuade the drone from advancing through an established communications line with Russian Federation, which is allied to the Syrian government but does not have command of forces aligned with it, because "the incident emerged very quickly". The Defence Ministry stated that it will now "track and target" any airborne vehicle that enters its areas of operations in Syria. Before the Su-22, the USA had not shot down a manned enemy aircraft since 1999.

The US shot down another Iranian UAV near At Tanf on June 8 after it dropped a bomb on US-backed militias operating in the area.

The drone was downed just outside the 55 kilometer de-confliction zone, according to the officials.

That incident followed two others involving U.S. fire against pro-regime forces on the ground as they came close to the garrison.

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