Backed Syrian forces close in on Raqqa from south

An American F-15 fighter jet shot down an Iranian-made armed drone in southern Syria early on June 20, the second such incident in two weeks.

Australia has deployed about 780 military personnel as part of the US-led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) in both Iraq and Syria.

"It displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces", the statement said.

The SU-22 fighter bomber was engaged by an F/A-18E Super Hornet after it had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the Pentagon said.

Australia will resume air combat missions over Syria after the Australian Defence Force lifted a temporary suspension initially sparked by Russian threats to shoot down coalition planes.

Russia, like Iran, an ally of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, issued a warning of its own to the United States in response to the downing of the Syrian jet, saying on Monday it would view as targets any planes flying west of the Euphrates river, though it stopped short of saying it would shoot any down.

The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria would retain the right to self-defense, and said the United States would work to keep lines of communication open with Russian Federation.

The United States has headed an worldwide coalition that has conducted air raids against ISIS in Syria and Iraq since 2014.

"Australian defense force personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria, and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course", a spokesman for Australia's defense department told the country's ABC news outlet. A similar drone was shot down in the same location after it dropped munitions near coalition forces on June 8.

USA central command claimed the jet had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and had been shot down "in collective self-defense".

It said Washington had failed to use the hotline - a vital incident-prevention tool - before downing the plane near Raqa.

But the Syrian jet deployed defensive flares, causing the USA missile to miss its target.

On Monday, Moscow accused the United States of issuing a warning before a USA jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday after which it suspended its communication channel with the U.S. about military operations.

"There has been neither a Security Council decision, nor a request from the official authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic as a sovereign state", Russian Federation s Interfax news reported. "If you look back at the logs that we put out fortnightly, you'll see that all out operations were in support of the retaking of Mosul", he said on Thursday.

"As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace", Rankine-Galloway said in a statement.

Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, the spokesman for the USA -led air war command at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, said the hotline had not been interrupted.

Syrian and Iranian-backed ground forces also have been gathering in the desert region.

The competition between the Syrian forces and USA -backed rebels has increased in the desert region since IS extremists abandoned large swathes of the territory as they moved to defend Raqqa and Deir Zor.

  • Leroy Wright