On June 20, a U.S. aircraft shot down an Iranian-made drone in Syria. “The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces,” according to the U.S.-led forces fighting ISIS. It was the second time that the United States shot down an Iranian-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). On June 8, a U.S. F-15 jet also shot down a Shaheed 129 drone. It was reportedly the first time that pro-regime forces had fired on the U.S.-led coalition. A U.S. defense official told CNN that the munition was a “dud” and was considered a “show of force.” Both incidents occurred near Tanf, an outpost near the Syrian-Jordanian border manned by U.S. and British Special Forces advising an anti-ISIS Syrian rebel group. Tensions have mounted since Iranian-sponsored pro-regime forces outflanked U.S. advisers and rebels near Tanf, establishing a link to Iraq for the first time in years.
Iran has provided Bashar al Assad’s government with critical financial and military support since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011. Recently, Iran and the United States have had more direct contact after trying to avoid each other on land and in the air. U.S. forces have been reluctant to take any action against pro-regime forces. “The only actions that we have taken against pro-regime forces in Syria, and they’ve been two specific incidents have been in self-defense. And we’ve communicated that clearly,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford on June 19.
Iran has reportedly established a drone airfield near Palmyra, Syria, not far from the Tanf outpost. Two defense officials told NBC News that the two UAVs that U.S. forces shot down originated from the airfield.
Although Washington and Tehran support rival actors in the Syrian conflict, they have a shared interest in destroying ISIS. On June 18, Iran launched six missiles at ISIS targets in eastern Syria in response to twin terror attacks in Tehran earlier in the month. The following is a statement released by the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria on the downing of the Iranian-made UAV.
Combined Joint Task Force
Operation Inherent Resolve
June 20, 2017
Coalition shoots down armed UAV in Syria
SOUTHWEST ASIA - A U.S. aircraft shot down an armed pro-Syrian regime Unmanned Aerial Vehicle advancing on Coalition forces in Southern Syria, June 20.
The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces.
The Coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS. This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near Coalition forces before it was shot down, June 8.
The F-15E intercepted the armed UAV after it was observed advancing on the Coalition position. When the armed UAV continued to advance on the Coalition position without diverting its course it was shot down.
Coalition has made it clear to all parties publically and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.
is a de-confliction mechanism in place with Russian forces to reduce uncertainty in this highly contested space and mitigate the chances of strategic miscalculation. Given recent events, the Coalition will not allow pro-regime aircraft to threaten or approach in close proximity to Coalition and partnered forces.
Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally. The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.
The Coalition calls on all parties to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security.