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Truce collapses in Syria's south amid offensive

21 Juin 2017

A U.S. F-15 fighter jet shot down an armed Iranian drone advancing on coalition forces in southern Syria near At Tanf, the US-led coalition said on Tuesday.

The coalition confirmed that on Sunday, it shot down a Syrian bomber which attacked US-backed fighters attempting to oust Islamic State.

Russia's defense ministry says it is suspending coordination with the United States in Syria over so-called "de-confliction zones" after the Americans downed a Syrian government fighter jet. It marks the second time this month a US jet downed a Shahed 129 in the area.

A statement released by US Central Command on Sunday said the Syrian jet was "immediately shot accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces".

Russian Federation warned on Monday that it would track coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft, but it stopped short of openly saying it would shoot them down.

That incident flared long-simmering tension between the USA and Russian Federation, which backs Assad and declared over the weekend it would begin to target coalition aircraft if they stray into territory the regime seeks to control.

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

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The recent incidents were condemned by the Syrian government and Russian Federation, saying the Syrian jet was conducting operations against ISIS.

Israel periodically carries out airstrikes targeting the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

The last time Russian Federation threatened to cut off the deconfliction line was in April, when the USA launched missiles at a Syrian airbase in what ultimately amounted to a warning shot in retaliation for Assad's continued use of chemical weapons. This could out USA and Russian forces in direct conflict.

The U.S. military meanwhile confirmed Tuesday that top IS cleric Turki al-Binali was killed in a coalition airstrike on May 31, in Mayadeen, Syria. "We want all parties to focus on the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria", the spokesperson said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

The RAAF has put a halt to air operations over Syria amid rising tensions after the US-led coalition clashed with forces backing the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad over the weekend. That Syrian aircraft had dropped bombs near the SDF south of the city of Tabqah.

A spokesman for the Guard, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, said all six ballistic missiles hit their targets, citing "local sources" and drone footage. One of the officials said that UAV "was assessed as a threat".

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

Truce collapses in Syria's south amid offensive