The U.S. military said it had shot down an armed, Iranian-made drone that had been bearing down on its forces near a garrison in Syria's southeast on Tuesday, in the latest sign of increasingly frequent confrontation with Damascus and its allies, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The drone was identified as a Shaheed-129 that displayed "hostile intent and advanced" on coalition forces at the At Tanf combat outpost used to train partner Syrian forces in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
Earlier this month, the USA shot down another pro-regime drone in the same area after it dropped munitions near coalition forces.
A civil council established by Kurdish and Arab allies of the US -led coalition, which is likely to administer Syria's Raqqa city after it is freed from Islamic State, has pardoned 83 of the terror group's low-ranking militants with the hope to promote stability, according to reports.
Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against IS targets in Syria as a precaution, after Russian Federation announced it was suspending the hotline and warned the US -led coalition not to fly over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River.
"ADF personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course", Australia's Department of Defence said. The ministry said strikes in neighboring Iraq, also part of the US -led coalition campaign, will go on.
"US-Russia relations are frosty", Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.
The two latest shoot downs, in addition to the one on June 8, has raised questions over whether the U.S.is getting drawn into a war with Russian Federation or Syria, rather than just with ISIS.
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The US believes it has the right to occupy a part of Syria and demands that a de-confliction zone around the town of Tanf in southwest Syria where there is a coalition training base for forces fighting the Islamic State not be entered by Syrian government forces.
The official said the USA pilot saw the Syrian pilot eject and saw a parachute deploy, but the U.S. believes the pilot would have landed in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow had asked for a "detailed explanation" of Monday's downing of a Syrian Su-22 bomber.
It added: "This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near Coalition forces before it was shot down, June 8".
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.
Washington also described those strikes as self defence.
The US military said that it will continue to shoot down "pro-regime aircraft" if they persist to pose a threat to coalition and allied militias.
The U.S.so far has shunned any cooperation with Assad and has partnered instead with local Arab and Kurdish forces in fighting IS. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dunford on Monday justified the shoot-down in legal terms, referencing the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force against al-Qaeda.
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