U.S. shoots down drone close to Iraqi-Syrian border: statement

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 20, 2017 10:24 AM

AMMAN (Reuters) - The U.S.-led coalition said on Tuesday it had shot down an armed "pro-Syrian regime" drone that had been bearing down on its forces near a garrison close to the border with Iraq in Syria's southeast.

In a statement, U.S. forces said the drone was fired on after it "displayed hostile intent and advanced on coalition forces", and a Western intelligence source said the so-called UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) was Iranian.

The statement said the location was close to where another "pro-regime" drone - which intelligence sources separately identified as Iranian - was shot down on June 8 after dropping bombs near coalition forces.

In Syria's complicated multi-sided conflict, Washington backs a coalition of rebel forces fighting both President Bashar al-Assad and Islamist militants, while Assad is backed by Russia, Iran and Shi'ite militia.

In an indirect reference to Iranian-backed forces that have been gathering in the eastern desert region, the coalition statement cited a recent escalation of tensions and said it would not "tolerate any hostile intent and action of pro-regime forces".

The U.S. military has repeatedly warned forces fighting on Assad's side to stay away from a "deconfliction zone", agreed with Russia, near a garrison used by U.S. special forces and U.S.-backed militia around Al Tanf.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)