US says it shot down Iranian-made drone in Syria

Australia's military yesterday said it was temporarily halting air missions over Syria, following the shooting down of a Syrian jet by U.S. forces.

The last drone the U.S. says it shot down was also reportedly destroyed near Tanf after firing on coalition forces.

Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said Tuesday the "operational achievement was much smaller" than what has been reported.

The dispute over the Syrian attack on the USA -backed fighters and the American response came as Iran launched ballistic missiles at Islamic State strongholds in eastern Syria in retaliation for a pair of attacks by extremists in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people.

BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian government troops and their allies have steadily positioned themselves in key areas on the flanks of the US -led coalition battle for the Islamic State's self-declared capital of Raqqa.

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 hotline.

Spicer said Monday that Washington would work to keep lines of communication open to, in his words, "de-conflict potential issues".

"We want to de-escalate, not escalate", Davis said.

The Syrian civil war remains the world's most enduring conflict, with millions displaced from the bloody fighting and bombing operations. But after the Russian warning, I think they will be very careful and would probably not like to repeat something that had happened in the past.

The Russian Ministry of Defence called the downing of the plane "a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic" and "military aggression".

The Air Force F-15 first intercepted the Iranian-made drone and shot it down as it continued to advance, the coalition said. He also confirmed that there had been recent instances in which ground-based air defenses were directed at coalition planes.

When asked whether he was confident USA forces would not be shot down over Syria by the Russians, Dunford responded, "I'm confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russian Federation operations center".

Russia also stopped using a key "de-confliction" communication channel set up to avoid conflict between USA and Russian forces in Syria.

On Sunday, a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 drone after it dropped bombs near troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are now moving towards Raqqah, Daesh's Syrian stronghold.

U.S. officials are trying to calm the escalating situation and said they wanted to relaunch the "deconflcition' hotline".

"The Coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of at Tanf, where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS", OIR said.

The incident happened near the combat outpost in At-Tanf, where USA and coalition advisers are supporting forces that are battling the Islamic State. The Iranian drone that was shot down Tuesday was outside the deconfliction area, the official said.

USA -led coalition forces had already set off a fresh round of controversy Sunday, shooting down a Syrian warplane that reportedly bombed nearby Syrian Democratic Forces, who are allied with the U.S.in their fight against ISIS.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Minsitry reported that the global coalition's aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles west of the Euphrates in Syria would be tracked by Russia's air defenses after a Syrian fighter had been shot down by a United States warplane.

And so the battle is moving inexorably towards a band of territory where the main highways linking Iraq and Syria are located.

It is the first time any activity by Russian or Syrian government forces have seriously affected the coalition against Daesh.

Iran says it attacked IS fighters in eastern Syria with long-range missiles on Sunday.

Sharif says the missile launch reflects Iran's "military power" though Iran has no intention of starting another war. "[You have] the two great powers, the US and Russian Federation, but you've also got Iran, you've got Saudi Arabia, you've got various non-state actors". I believe the Americans might escalate this situation in Syria which might also drive other coalition members either to reconsider their position in this coalition or be drawn into the conflict by the USA itself. The Bahraini cleric wrote religious justifications for the enslavement of hundreds of women from Iraq's Yazidi minority and helped establish the IS branch in Libya. The SDF are supported by US airpower, and they have begun their assault on Raqqa.

The announcement from Canberra came as a brief, two-day truce collapsed in the southern Syrian city of Daraa and nearby areas where government forces have gained ground. The truce was meant to be extended but now appears to have collapsed.

The Russian military involvement in Syria began in September 2015 after an official request by the Syrian government for military assistance against terrorist groups.

The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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