Australia suspends air strikes in Syria

A United States military official told AFP that an F-15 Strike Eagle jet destroyed the Shahed 129 drone around 12:30am local time northeast of the At-Tanf garrison, which is close to the Jordanian border.

"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 statement said.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Australian Department of Defence said: "As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased".

On June 8, USA officials reported that a drone likely connected to Iranian-supported Hezbollah forces fired on US -backed troops and was shot down by an American fighter jet.

"In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying objects, including jets and drones of the global coalition, detected in west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian ground-and-air defenses as air targets", it said. Australia is part of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and in late 2015 extended air operations into Syria, with a total of 780 defence personnel based in the Middle East. Pentagon revealed that the incident happened after a Syrian attack aircraft, SU-22, bombed USA allies fighting militants from the Daesh (Arabic word for Islamic State).

The push by 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.

Russia also stopped using a key "de-confliction" communication channel set up to avoid conflict between United States and Russian forces in Syria.

A similar shoot down occurred at the same site after what the coalition called a "pro-regime" drone dropped bombs near coalition forces on June 8.

Canberra's move comes after Moscow announced that it is halting its deescalation cooperation - known as the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria - with the U.S. military.

After the warning, the OIR said that the coalition would reposition its aircraft over Syria as a prudent measure.

"The US position militarily is weaker and any sign of a lack of unity within the global anti-ISIS coalition can only be good news for Russian Federation and the Syrian regime". That area is seen by most experts as a likely Russian target in the event of a NATO-Russia military confrontation.

"As the battle for eastern Syria steps up, Russian Federation and its Syrian government ally seem intent on drawing a line in the sky".

  • Leroy Wright