The US shot down Iranian drone in Syria - report

A US warplane shot down a drone in Syria on Saturday. It is a rare occurrence when fighter jets are used to shoot down drones, although Israel has shot down drones with warplanes, and a US F-15E Strike Eagle shot down a drone in June 2017 in Syria, one of two US downings of Syrian regime drones.

The latest report was made by Reuters, Fox News and Aviation Week. Reuters said the incident happened in eastern Syria when the unmanned system was deemed a threat.

“Coalition aircraft successfully engaged and defeated a US [unmanned aircraft system] through air-to-air engagement in the vicinity of Mission Support Site Green Village,” said coalition spokesperson US Army Col. Wayne Marotto, according to Reuters. Fox News Lucas Tomlinson wrote that the “US Air Force F-15E shot down Iranian drone over eastern Syria yesterday after flying ‘too close’ to some of the 900 US troops deployed there,” basing his report on US officials.

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Separately, Aviation Week noted, “Coalition aircraft shot down an unmanned aircraft system (US with an air-to-air missile near a US military base in eastern Syria on August 21, US Central Command told Aviation Week.” The US officials told them, “The UAS was deemed a threat and self-defense measures were taken.”

In May 2021, Israel released video that showed an F-16 fighter jet shooting down an armed suicide drone that was flown from Gaza. It was an Iranian-style kamikaze drone. An Apache helicopter shot down an Iranian drone that flew from T-4 base in Syria in February 2018 and another Iranian drone was downed near Beit Shemesh in May 2021.

Drones are relatively easy to shoot down by manned aircraft because they tend to be slow. In February 2009, the US Army shot down an Iranian drone in Iraq, apparently using an aircraft. In 2002 Iraqi Air Force pilots also shot down an American Predator Drone. Serbian air defense also downed US drones during conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s. Russia also shot down a number of drones flown by Georgia in 2008.

Iranian drones supplied to pro-Iran militias in Iraq have frequently menaced US facilities in Iraq over the last months. Iran has also sought to target US forces in Syria. In June, reports said the US used ground-based air defense to shoot two drones down in Iraq.

The latest incident may raise tensions with Iran. Drones are increasingly common in Syria and Iraq. Turkey has been using drones to target Kurds and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, claiming they are carrying out airstrikes on “terrorists.” Iranian drones also targeted the Mercer Street tanker at the end of July in the Gulf of Oman raising tensions with the US, UK and Israel.