Australia suspends military flights over Syria after U.S. downs warplane

U.S. forces Wednesday morning said a United States jet shot down an Iranian-made drone operated by Syrian government forces near Tanf, an outpost of the US-led coalition.

It also comes after an American F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet shot down a Syrian SU-22 fighter-bomber Sunday in northern Syria as it "dropped bombs" near the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance fighting IS.

"We have said before that demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces towards coalition partner forces in Syria that are conducting legitimate counter-Isis operations in Syria, will not be tolerated", Davis said.

More recently a US jet shot down a Syrian Air Force jet over the weekend after it struck USA -allied forces, marking one of the greatest escalations since the USA entered the Syrian conflict in 2014.

In response, the U.S. Central Command issued its own statement, saying the Syrian aircraft was shot down "in collective self-defense of coalition-partnered forces".

The drone was identified as a Shaheed-129 that displayed "hostile intent and advanced" on coalition forces at the At Tanf combat outpost used to train partner Syrian forces in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Russians "don't have operational control over the Syrian forces or the pro-regime militias", Davis noted.

The shoot down comes two days after the USA announced it shot down a Syrian regime fighter jet on Sunday after it dropped bombs near us -backed Syrian Kurdish forces advancing on ISIS's stronghold of Raqqa.

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".

A top U.S. general said the country would work to relaunch the "deconfliction" hotline established in 2015, after Russian Federation said Washington had failed to use the line - a vital incident-prevention tool - before targeting the plane near Raqa.

The deconfliction zone is an area in which US and Russian forces have agreed not to operate.

A spokesman for Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, said all six ballistic missiles it launched on Syria hit their targets, according to "local sources and drone films".

Activists and Islamic State supporters reported his death at the time, but Tuesday's statement from Central Command was the first USA confirmation.

It said the latest contribution brings the total funding from the EU Trust Fund for UNICEF's work on the Syria crisis response to almost €200 million ($223 millions). The bomb did not explode, but the action was deemed a threat, and the drone was shot down.

Also on June 18, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that it had deployed several "ground-to-ground, mid-range missiles" from a base in western Iran at ISIS forces in the Deir Ezzor region, marking the first time Iran had fired rockets at another country in three decades and a significant escalation of its military involvement in Syria's civil war. "That would be another mistake on the scope of the Iraq War".

It marked the second time in three days U.S. forces have shot down an aircraft operated by Damascus or its allies in Syria, and reflected mounting tensions over a stretch of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier where USA forces have established a base. The official added that the strike was in "self-defense". There is no IS-controlled territory in contact with the US-backed forces at Tanf, however.

Daraa is where Syria's crisis first broke out in March 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar Assad's government.

The US military said there were no signs on Monday that the "deconfliction" channel had been suspended and that they were keen to defuse tensions.

  • Leroy Wright