Western coalition in Syria shoots down menacing drone
Washington (AFP) – A drone that threatened a base with US and partner forces in southern Syria was shot down by a British fighter jet with the Western anti-Islamic State coalition, the Pentagon said Thursday.
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The US Central Command said that two "unmanned aerial systems" had flown toward the Al-Tanf desert garrison near the Syrian border with Iraq and Jordan late Tuesday.
"As one of the UAS continued its course deeper into the Al-Tanf Deconfliction Zone, it was assessed as demonstrating hostile intent and was shot down," said Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command.
The second drone was not attacked and "likely left the area," Urban said in a statement.
The British defense ministry said the drone was downed by a missile from a Royal Air Force Typhoon, the first-ever air-to-air engagement by one of the British fighter jets.
The small size of the drone made it a "very challenging target," the ministry said.
But officials did not say if it was armed or not.
"This strike is an impressive demonstration of the RAF's ability to take out hostile targets in the air which pose a threat to our forces," said British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
Neither the United States nor the British would say who launched the drones toward the base.
The Pentagon has blamed drone attacks on US forces in Iraq over the past years on Iran-backed militia groups.
Iran-backed forces are deployed in close proximity to Al-Tanf, which sits on the strategically important Baghdad-Damascus highway.
In October the base came under attack by artillery fire and drones.
"We know that this is an increasingly used and increasingly potentially lethal threat that these Iran-backed militia groups are using, the use of drones," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday.
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