US says it shot down Iranian-made drone in Syria

Russia's defense ministry says it is suspending coordination with the United States in Syria over so-called "de-confliction zones" after the Americans downed a Syrian government fighter jet.

A U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet shot down an Iranian-made Shahed 129 drone that was armed and within firing range of coalition troops in southern Syria on June 20, according to representatives of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The U.S. could increasingly find itself engaging Syrian regime, Iranian, or even Russian military assets as the campaign to retake the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa escalates.

A USA warplane shot down an Iranian-made drone operated by pro-regime forces in Syria early Tuesday, officials said, prompting growing worldwide concern over rising tensions between the two sides.

The U.S. said it had downed the Syrian jet a day earlier after it dropped bombs near the U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against the Islamic State group, adding that was something it would not tolerate.

Australia is part of the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Iraq.

It's the third air-to-air strike in less than two weeks as tensions continue to rise between U.S., Russian and Syrian forces.

A defense official says the drone was approaching a military camp near the Syria-Jordan border.

The hotline was established between USA officers monitoring the war from an operations center at a base in Qatar and their Russian counterparts operating in Syria.

Russia's foreign ministry accused Washington of failing to use the hotline before downing the plane near Raqa, and called for a "careful investigation by the United States command" into the incident.

Murphy's remarks came two days after a U.S. Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane for the first time, prompting Russian Federation to issue a threat against American airborne assets over Syrian airspace. Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle intercepted and destroyed an armed UAV controlled by "pro-regime forces", which had been threatening US -backed forces fighting in Syria on June 8.

On several occasions in recent weeks, warplanes of the USA -led coalition have also struck pro-government forces to prevent them advancing from the Al Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria at a spot where the country's borders join Iraq and Jordan.

A US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Mediterranean Sea June 28, 2016.

"I think Iran is trying to preemptively shape what a U.S. - Iran conflict would look like, keep us focused on eastern Syria and away from key Iranian interests in the west", said Jennifer Cafarella, an expert on the Syrian conflict at the Institute for the Study of War.

Raising concerns over what he called "a risky escalation", the lawmaker said it wasn't in American interests to get involved in Syria's civil war.

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

  • Leroy Wright