US warplane ‘shoots down’ armed drone in Syria

An American F-15 jet shot down a pro-regime drone near a base near the Jordanian border, coalition spokesman says.

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter flies during a certification of the arresting gear in the military air base in Lielvarde
The F-15 jet shot down the pro-regime drone after it fired at coalition forces, according to a spokesman for the coalition [File: Reuters]

An American F-15 warplane has shot down a pro-government drone in Syria after it fired at coalition forces, officials said, marking an escalation of tensions in the war-torn country’s south.

No one was hurt in Thursday’s incident near the coalition’s At-Tanaf garrison close to the Jordan border, Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), told Pentagon reporters.

The drone “was armed and still had weapons on it when it was fired upon by US forces from an aircraft”, said Dillon.

Although the weapon deployed by the drone hit only dirt, the action was “clearly meant” as an attack, added Dillon.

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Dillon said it was not immediately clear who owned the drone.

“Regardless of what kind of drone it was, it fired upon our coalition forces, and therefore showed hostile intent, and it was perceived as a threat,” he said.

At-Tanaf, on the key highway connecting Syria’s capital Damascus with Baghdad, capital of Iraq, has seen a surge of Iran-backed troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Coalition forces use the area – just northeast of the Jordanian border – as a training and staging area for attacks against ISIL fighters.

It was the first time since 2009 that the US Air Force shot down another aircraft, the Air Force said.

The shooting down of the drone came after another incident earlier on Thursday in which coalition forces struck “technical vehicles” advancing towards At-Tanaf and threatening coalition and partner forces, US Central Command said in a statement.

It was the third time the coalition has struck pro-regime forces near At-Tanaf in less than a month. On Tuesday, coalition forces “destroyed” a pro-regime unit that was moving into the area with a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons and armed technical vehicles, the coalition said.

Last month, coalition planes struck a convoy that had apparently been headed towards At-Tanaf.

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Source: News Agencies