United States shoots down drone close to Iraqi-Syrian border

Amir Eshel the commander of the Israel Air Force

That move elicited a round of threats from Russia's defense ministry, which indicated it could shoot down the next US jet flying west of the Euphrates River, and raised fresh concerns over the expanded nature of USA involvement in Syria's protracted six year war. Among US coalition members, Australia is carrying out one of the highest levels of airstrikes in both countries, though naturally they are all far fewer than US strikes. The Russian ministry accused the United States of a "deliberate failure to make good on its commitments" under the deconfliction deal between the two forces. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the air-safety hotline was not used and also noted that there were also Russian aircraft in the area when the plane went down. "We prefer to keep this channel of communication open..."

The last time the US downed a manned aircraft was in 1999, during the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation intervention in Serbia, when a US Air Force F-16 shot down a MiG-29.

Australia is part of the coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and, in late 2015, extended air operations into Syria, with a total of 780 defence personnel based in the Middle East.

A Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the U.S. is moving toward a military confict with Russian Federation and Iran in Syria.

It comes days after a USA warplane shot down a Syrian government fighter jet in the north of the country, prompting a furious reaction from Russian Federation.

The coalition statement said the location was close to where another "pro-regime" drone - which intelligence sources had also identified as Iranian - was shot down on June 8 after dropping bombs near coalition forces. The Syrian government forces and their allies have placed themselves south of Raqqa and on the outskirts of Deir el-Zour, the IS militants' last refuge.

The remarks came amid questions whether the strike - Iran's first in the Syrian war - had been effective.

USA officials are trying to calm the escalating situation and said they wanted to relaunch the "deconflcition' hotline".

However, the SU-22 dropped bombs on SDF positions a few hours later, the Pentagon said, and "in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition-partnered forces [the plane] was immediately shot down".

Russia's deputy foreign affairs minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the United States strike "has to be seen as a continuation of America's line to disregard the norms of worldwide law".

"We have never had a coherent Syrian strategy", said one USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We expect that it will be provided", he said. Air sorties over Iraq continued during the temporary stay. A Syrian military offensive has unfolded on several fronts, coupled with Russian airstrikes and a show of force by Iran, which fired ballistic missiles on an IS stronghold this week and pushed militias that it sponsors deeper into the battlefield.

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