The United States has shot down a pro-Syrian government drone that fired towards US-led coalition forces in Syria, a US military spokesman says, in a major escalation of tensions between Washington and troops supporting Damascus.
The armed drone “hit dirt” and there were no injuries or damage done to the coalition patrol in southern Syria. But US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, told reporters on Thursday the drone meant to attack them and dismissed the possibility it had fired a warning shot.
Dillon said the United States had earlier carried out a strike against pick-up trucks with weapons that had moved against US-backed fighters near the southern town of At Tanf.
It was the third such strike in as many weeks by the Pentagon, which has sought to stay out of Syria’s civil war to focus firepower instead on Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
On Tuesday, the United States launched an air strike against Iranian-backed fighters who it said posed a threat to US and US-backed forces in southern Syria.
A military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad threatened on Wednesday to hit US positions in Syria, warning its “self-restraint” over US air strikes would end if Washington crossed “red lines”.
In recent days, the US military has repeatedly warned massing forces to stay away from a ‘de-confliction zone’ near a garrison used by American special forces and US-backed fighters around At Tanf.
The zone was agreed with Russia, Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s ally. Assad is also backed by Iran and Shi’ite militias.