US shoots down Iranian drone in Syria 

A US fighter shot down an Iranian drone, the third time this month that the US has downed aircraft affiliated with Assad’s regime.

The US military said it shot down an Iranian-made armed drone in southern Syria on Tuesday, marking the third time this month that the US has downed aircraft affiliated with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group said a US F-15 fighter jet shot down the drone “after it displayed hostile intent” while approaching a military camp near the Syria-Jordan border. A similar drone was shot down in the same location after it had dropped munitions near coalition forces on June 8.

The repeated incidents in the vicinity of the Tanf camp, where US forces train and advise local ground forces in the fight against ISIS, add to soaring regional tensions that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the terrorists enters a crucial phase, with US-backed forces pushing into the group’s de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The US on Sunday shot down a Syrian jet for the first time during the conflict near Raqqa after it dropped bombs near the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, which are battling ISIS.

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Russia condemned the US action and in retaliation suspended a hotline intended to prevent such incidents.

US Wants to ‘De-escalate, Not Escalate’

Asked Tuesday whether the hotline was no longer being used, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said he could not discuss the matter beyond saying the US stands ready to use the line.

“The de-confliction line has proven effective at mitigating strategic miscalculations and escalating tense situations, and to be clear, we prefer to keep this channel of communication open. We want to de-escalate, not escalate,” Davis said. “We remain available on our end. I’ll leave it to the Russians to state their level of participation.”

The US also fired on Syrian government ground forces in the east on two occasions in the past month.

The US military’s Central Command said the drone shot down Tuesday was a Shaheed 129 and appeared to have been operated by “pro-regime” forces, a term which US officials previously have used to describe Hezbollah elements.

There are concerns that further confrontations could lead to a breakout of hostilities that would hinder the battle against ISIS.

Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria as a precaution, after Russia announced it was suspending the hotline and warned the US-led coalition not to fly over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River.

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By: AP

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