Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Prof. Stephen Cohen on events in Syria

Tales of the New Cold War: US leaning Syria. Europe leaning Moscow
Stephen F. Cohen @nyu @princeton

...A U.S. F-15 fighter jet shot down an Iranian-made drone over southern Syria on Tuesday, a U.S. defense official said, marking the second time in a week that the U.S. military has taken a pro-Syrian government aircraft out of the sky.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the incident had yet to be made public, said the drone was in the area where a U.S. plane shot down the same type of unmanned aircraft — an Iranian Shahed 129 — this month. The drone, roughly the size of a U.S. Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, was armed and within range of striking U.S.-led coalition troops and their Syrian allies, according to the official, who said the strike was in “self-defense.”

CNN was first to report the incident.

[U.S. risks further battles as it steps deeper into Syrian quagmire]

In an emailed statement, the Pentagon said the drone was shot down near an “established combat outpost” northeast of the Tanf Iraq-Syria border crossing. Tanf and the surrounding area — a desert-scape of scattered dwellings and scrub brush — is seen by Iran as an integral overland supply route that connects Tehran to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The shoot-down is the latest escalation between the United States and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In just over a month, U.S. forces have struck Iranian-backed Shiite militias in southern Syria three times, and on Sunday a U.S. F/A-18 shot down a Syrian air force Su-22 jet southwest of the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa.

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