Backed Syrian forces close in on Raqqa from south

A U.S. aircraft shot down a pro-Syrian regime Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle advancing on Coalition forces in Southern Syria, June 20, the US-led coalition said in a statement.

Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the not aware of who was manning the drone, but noted that Iran has sold the Shaheed-129 drone to the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

The U.S. -led coalition's actions were further complicated by Iran, which over the weekend launched strikes on ISIS targets in Eastern Syria - Iran's first missile strikes into the country.

A USA military official told AFP the drone was "on a run toward our folks to drop a munition on them" and was shot down in self-defence.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that his country would launch a new incursion into northern Syria to counter any threats from USA -backed Syrian Kurdish fighters who are engaged in a battle to capture the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

"There's no authorization for military force that Congress has passed that gives the president the ability to take military action against the Syrian regime", Murphy said.

The focus of the U.S.'s airpower in recent years has turned to providing air support against insurgencies or forces that do not have fighter jets of their own.

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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The Russian military also said it would stop using the "deconfliction" channel that was established to avoid conflicts as coalition and Russian warplanes operated in Syria's airspace.

"As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force (ADF) strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased", a defence spokesman said in a statement yesterday.

Davis said the USA did not attempt to dissuade the drone from advancing through an established communications line with Russian Federation, which is allied to the Syrian government but does not have command of forces aligned with it, because "the incident emerged very quickly".

The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria would retain the right to self-defense, and said the United States would work to keep lines of communication open with Russian Federation.

Earlier, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials are trying to re-establish the communications link to prevent potentially deadly accidents, and that the de-confliction efforts have worked well in the past. "That would be another mistake on the scope of the Iraq War", he said.

"There has been neither a Security Council decision, nor a request from the official authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic as a sovereign state", Russia's Interfax news reported.

Dillon would not say if Russian Federation had used the line to warn the Americans ahead of the strike, but a United States defense official confirmed to AFP that it had.

  • Megan Austin