US shoots down Iran-made drone close to Iraqi-Syrian border
The US military said it shot down an armed, Iranian-made drone that had been bearing down on its forces near a garrison in southeast Syria on Tuesday, in the latest sign of increasingly frequent confrontation with Damascus and its allies.
The incident closely followed US downing of a piloted Syrian army jet in the southern Raqqa countryside on Sunday after it dropped bombs near US-backed forces, as is claimed by the US.
That was a rarity in modern warfare, representing the first time the US Air Force had downed a manned jet since 1999.
In the latest incident, the Pentagon said a US F-15 aircraft flying over Syrian territory fired on the drone after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on coalition forces.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said it had "dirty wings," meaning it was armed.
File of a pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles. /VCG Photo

File of a pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles. /VCG Photo

Reuters cited an anonymous western intelligence source saying that the drone was "unquestionably Iranian", adding that "they are testing the limits."
The area falls in a part of Syria that was recently identified as a military priority by Damascus, and is seen as strategically important for Iran as it seeks to secure a land corridor between forces it backs in Syria and Iraq.
The US-led coalition said the location was close to where another "pro-regime" drone, which intelligence sources had also identified as Iranian, was shot down on June 8 after dropping bombs near coalition forces.
In an indirect reference to Iranian-backed forces that have been gathering in the eastern desert region, a US-led coalition statement cited a recent escalation of tensions and said it would not "tolerate any hostile intent and action of pro-regime forces".
Smoke billows from buildings in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa on June 18, 2017‍. /VCG Photo

Smoke billows from buildings in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa on June 18, 2017‍. /VCG Photo

Russia, like Iran an ally of President 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.
Still, the Pentagon said it had not seen hostile action by Moscow.
"Public statements aside, we have not seen the Russians do any actions that cause us concern. We continue to operate, making some adjustments for prudent measures," Davis said.
The US military has repeatedly warned forces fighting on Assad's side to stay away from a "deconfliction zone", agreed with Russia, near a garrison used by US special forces and US-backed militia around Al Tanf.
On several occasions in recent weeks, warplanes of the US-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.
Washington also described those strikes as self-defense.
(Source: Reuters)