BEIRUT: The US military said it shot down an Iranian-made, armed drone in southern Syria on Tuesday, marking the third time this month the US has downed aircraft affiliated with President Bashar Assad’s government.
The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said an F-15 fighter jet shot down the drone “after it displayed hostile intent” while approaching a military camp near the Syria-Jordan border.
A similar drone was shot down in the same location after it dropped munitions near coalition forces on June 8.
The repeated incidents in the vicinity of the Tanf camp, where US forces train and advise local ground forces in the fight against IS, add to soaring regional tensions that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the extremists enters a crucial phase
RUSSIA NOT SURE IF IT KILLED BAGHDADI
Russia said on Tuesday it could not confirm that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in an air strike in Syria last month, the Interfax news agency quoted deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov as saying.
Moscow had said on Friday its forces may have killed the secretive Islamic State leader, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials were sceptical.
Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition’s operation against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, said the coalition “cannot confirm these reports at this time.” There have been a number of previous reports of Baghdadi’s death or him being critically injured by US-led coalition air strikes.
AUSTRALIA SUSPENDS SYRIA AIR STRIKES
Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria as a precaution, after a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week and Russia warned the US-led coalition from flying over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River.
The announcement from Canberra came as a brief, two-day truce collapsed in the southern Syrian city of Daraa and nearby areas where government forces have gained ground.