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USA shoots down another pro-regime drone in Syria
20 June 2017, 11:05 | Erica Roy
While both the U.S. and Russia say their forces are in Syria to fight ISIS, Russia has allied itself with the regime of Syrian President Bahsar al-Assad while the US-led coalition has aligned with groups that oppose both the Assad regime and ISIS.
In a statement about the Su-22 intercept, the combined joint task force leading Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said in a statement that the USA -led coalition operating in Syria "will not hesitate" to defend itself or partner forces from any threat.
RAAF operations over Syria have been halted amid fears planes could be fired upon in retaliation for the USA downing an Assad-backed fighter jet.
Russian Federation on Monday warned it would track US-led coalition aircraft in Syria as potential "targets" and halted an incident-prevention hotline with Washington after U.S. forces downed a Syrian jet.
Defence is monitoring the situation closely.
Australia has six fighter jets based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that strike targets in Syria and Iraq.
The defense ministry statement also announced the suspension of a hotline meant to minimize incidents with the U.S.in Syrian airspace.
The Coalition's mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
After the three encounters, Assad's forces wheeled around and seized territory to the north all the way to the Iraqi border, leaving USA forces and their allies largely isolated in the southeast and cutting off their path to the Islamic State group.
A USA military official told AFP the drone was "on a run toward our folks to drop a munition on them", so the coalition shot the unmanned aircraft down in self defense. Moscow says that from now on, coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River will be considered potential targets by Russian aircraft and surface-to-air missiles. Australia said its sorties in Iraq would continue as part of the coalition. In late 2015, it extended air operations into Syria on US' request. It also deployed about 780 military personnel.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the incident had yet to be made public, said that the drone was in the same area where US aircraft had shot down the same type of unmanned aircraft - an Iranian Shahed 129 - earlier this month.
A top Russian diplomat has condemned the United States for shooting down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet the previous day as an act of "aggression".
"It doesn't look like anyone now intends to deliberately escalate further, but when you've got these little skirmishes. the risk is that you can end up in an escalation by accident", said Sam Heller, a Syria expert at The Century Foundation.
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. The UAV was reported as an Iranian-made Shahed-129, similar in size to the MQ-1.
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