An American fighter jet has shot down a drone made in Iran, and operated by forces supporting the Syrian regime. The drone was shot down in south Syria, according to report by American officials. It is believed that the drone was armed, and was being used to attack coalition troops led by the U.S. military on the ground.
The drone was disabled close to Tanf, which is an outpost occupied by coalition forces. The decision to take down the drone is the latest incident to take place in the Syria conflict, following the shooting of a Syrian fighter jet on Sunday last week. Another drone was shot down by U.S. forces earlier in June, too.
An F-15 American jet took the drone down at roughly 00:30 local time on Tuesday, according to official statements. The decision signals increased tensions in the area, as control of east Syria becomes a hot topic.
The US military has also officially announced that coalition forces have killed one of the leading clerics for Islamic State, Turki al-Binali. The preacher was killed during an air strike in May, and IS followers have confirmed that al-Binali is in fact dead.
CNN reported that military officials confirmed to them the drone was a Shahed 129, a model that was originally unveiled in 2012 by Iran. At the time, it was claimed that the drone had a range of 1,240 miles, and that it could carry both missiles and bombs. A US official said that the drone was threatening the American forces on the ground, and the course of the drone showed that opposing forces were planning to drop munition. CNN also reports that military officials say the drone display hostile intent, and was “assessed to be a threat.”
The drone shot down earlier in June was the same model 129, but that drone was only down after it released dud munition close to coalition troop patrols. The drone was quickly taken out before it could take out any training grounds used by coalition forces.
Tension surrounding the Tanf base is escalating rapidly. US forces recently shot down a warplane sent by the Syrian regime, which had dropped munition on rebel forces fighting ISIS in Tabqah. This incident resulted in the Ministry of Defense for Russian announcing a de-confliction hotline with coalition forces. The move by the Russians was implemented to try and stop any further attacks taking place in the Syrian airspace. The statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry also said that any aircraft flying west of the River Euphrates would be considered an air target by the Russian military.
Russian’s statement resulted in the Australian government temporarily stopping any further airstrikes in Syria.
A statement released by the international coalition on Tuesday explained that their aim remains focused on ISIS, but coalition forces also reserve the right to defend themselves. The statement said that the coalition also does not intend to fight the Syrian regime, but will not hesitate to defend partner or coalition forces.