US military shoots down Iranian-made drone in southern Syria

The unmanned aircraft allegedly displayed hostile intent toward USA -backed coalition forces, which includes local and foreign Islamist militants, in a part of Syria that was recently identified as a military priority by Damascus. He is acting to protect his assets.

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

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the USA military shot down the Shahed 129 as it approached an established coalition combat outpost near al-Tanf in southeast Syria, where the holding training sessions for local fighters against the Islamic State group, VOA reported. And Iran, which already supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's dictator, with ground troops, escalated its involvement on June 18th by firing a volley of ballistic missiles into a city in eastern Syria controlled by IS.

One official said that the drone was shot down because it was "assessed to be a threat".

Hostilities resumed Tuesday as government troops captured a hill west of the city and a former army base that was held by rebels, according to the United Kingdom -based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the AP reported.

This was underscored by reports on Tuesday that an armed Russian fighter jet buzzed within five feet of a US Air Force reconnaissance plane in the Baltic Sea, which happened after US planes shot down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday. "Our most capable allies are the (Kurdish) peshmerga, but Turkey, who is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and host to an airbase that is central to our efforts, considers the Kurds enemies".

Pentagon spokesman, Major Adrian Rankine Galloway, said the USA had taken "prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria" to ensure the safety of pilots. If they succeed, Iran will have secured a major objective: control over a land corridor that runs from Tehran to Beirut, via Iraq and Syria (see map).

The official said the expanded USA role would not require more troops, comparing it to "The Rat Patrol", the 1960s television series about small, allied desert forces deployed against the Germans in northern Africa during World War II.

A Western intelligence source said it was "unquestionably Iranian".

Despite tension between Moscow and Washington in Syria's conflict, the majority of Russians think the risk of Russia being attacked by a foreign military is very small, a state-funded pollster has found. "If you're going to ramp up military activity against Assad, you are also going in against Iran and Russian Federation".

"With (the help of) intensive Russian bombing they are trying to advance but we are repelling them", he said.

"As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force (ADF) strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased", the Department of Defence said here in a statement.

Russia's defense ministry warned it will start tracking coalition aircraft west of the Euphrates River, calling the shootdown a "cynical violation" of Syria's sovereignty.

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