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

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A U.S. F18 fighter jet lands on the deck of U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during an annual joint military exercise called "Foal Eagle" between South Korea and U.S., in the East Sea, South Korea, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji - RTX30XI8
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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)


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