One day after a U.S. F/A-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Air Force SU-22, the United States has announced its third air-to-air victory in just weeks. A U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle intercepted and shot down an Iranian Shaheed-129 UAV over Southern Syria on Monday, after the drone’s presence was assessed to be a threat to U.S-backed forces in the area.
The armed drone was the same model shot down by American forces earlier this month, after it dropped munitions in the vicinity of coalition partnered forces with no ISIS targets in the area. On Monday, however, the American F-15E intercepted the drone as it was advancing on a coalition position. When the drone did not divert its course upon intercept, the American fighter shot it down before it could attempt any sort of attack.
The U.S. led coalition confirmed the incident on Tuesday, claiming the “armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces.”
According to their statement, Coalition Forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf, which is the same area U.S. fighters shot down a Shaheed-129 UAV on June 8th after it attempted to bomb coalition troops.
“The Coalition has made it clear to all parties publicly and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated,” a statement issued on Operation Inherent Resolve’s official website reads.
It goes on to once again reaffirm that the Coalition’s intent is not to engage Russian, Iranian, or Syrian forces: “The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally. The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.”
After Sunday’s incident, all parties involved in the ongoing battle against the Islamic State in Syria reestablished when they refer to as “red lines,” or borders between groups with opposing views and backing from different nations, in order to prevent any further hostility between factions that are currently embroiled in conflict with ISIS fighters in and around their defacto capital city of Raqqa, Syria.
“There is a de-confliction mechanism in place with Russian forces to reduce uncertainty in this highly contested space and mitigate the chances of strategic miscalculation.” The official statement reads.
“Given recent events, the Coalition will not allow pro-regime aircraft to threaten or approach in close proximity to Coalition and partnered forces.”
At the time, Russian authorities announced they would perceive any U.S. aircraft flying West of the Euphrates River as hostile, and would engage them with air defenses.
“From now on, in areas where Russian aviation performs combat missions in the skies of Syria, any airborne objects found west of the Euphrates River, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles belonging to the international coalition, tracked by means of Russian land and air anti-aircraft defense, will be considered air targets,” the Defense Ministry statement read.
Image courtesy of Reuters
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