BEIRUT – Two suicide bombers stormed a police station in the Syrian capital on Monday, killing at least 17 civilians and police, state TV reported, while a drone strike in eastern Syria killed 10 Hezbollah fighters who were helping Syrian troops battle the Islamic State group. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said the Hezbollah fighters were killed Monday morning when their position came under attack from the sky. It has also been accused of striking Syrian government positions. The Observatory said two days of fighting in the desert area left 120 Syrian troops, Hezbollah fighters and other pro-government gunmen dead.
In the latest sign of increasingly frequent confrontation with Damascus and its allies, Tuesday's incident closely followed Sunday's US downing of a piloted Syrian army jet in the southern Raqqa countryside after it dropped bombs near US-backed forces. The Pentagon said a US F-15 aircraft, flying over Syrian territory, fired on the drone after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on coalition forces. The drone was shot down after it dropped bombs, aimed only at dirt, but in an area close enough to coalition forces whereby it was considered a threat. In Syria's tangled conflict, Washington backs a coalition of rebel forces fighting both President Assad and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
"The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. Carla Babb, the Pentagon correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) tweeted Tuesday saying the sources have confirmed that the Iranian-made drone shot down by the U.S. fighter jet was being operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday it would exert new control over the skies of western Syria in response to the downing of a Syrian fighter jet by the U.S. Air Force on Sunday, reports said. "From now on, in areas where Russian aviation performs combat missions in the skies of Syria, any airborne objects found west of the Euphrates River, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles belonging to the international coalition, tracked by means of Russian land and air anti-aircraft defense, will be considered air targets," CNN reported citing the Defense Ministry statement. The U.S. military has established a roughly 50-kilometer "deconfliction" ring around al-Tanf and has warned the pro-Assad forces -- through a Russian deconfliction channel -- that movement within the zone could be considered hostile and the Iranian drone was outside that deconfliction area when it was shot down, the Washington Post reported citing a U.S. defense official.
The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said a U.S. F-15 fighter jet shot down the drone "after it displayed hostile intent" while approaching a military camp near the Syria-Jordan border. The U.S. on Sunday shot down a Syrian jet for the first time during the conflict near Raqqa after it dropped bombs near the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, which are battling IS. Fighting and bombardment meanwhile resumed early Tuesday between Syrian government forces and rebels in the southern city of Daraa and nearby areas, where a 48-hour truce had gone into effect on Saturday. The push by Syrian government forces in the Daraa area appears headed for the Jordanian border, two weeks after Assad's troops reached the border with Iraq for the first time in years.
In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria. Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force in charge of the country's missile program, said it launched six Zolfaghar ballistic missiles from the western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan. In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria. In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria.
A U.S. aircraft shot down an armed Iranian drone advancing on coalition forces in southern Syria on Tuesday, Fox News confirmed. The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle about 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces. An U.S Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter flies during a certification of the arresting gear last May. The coalition has made it clear to all parties publicly and through the deconfliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.
A Syrian jet was also shot down in northern Syria on Sunday evening. Russia, which has an air contingent deployed in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, warned after that attack that it would track coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft, though it stopped short of openly saying it would shoot them down. "They were threatening our forces on the ground," a US official quoted by AFP said of the drone shot down on Tuesday. The last drone the US says it shot down was also reportedly destroyed near Tanf after firing on coalition forces.
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An American F-15 warplane has shot down a pro-government drone in Syria after it fired at coalition forces, officials said, marking an escalation of tensions in the war-torn country's south. It was the first time since 2009 that the US Air Force shot down another aircraft, the Air Force said. The shooting down of the drone came after another incident earlier on Thursday in which coalition forces struck "technical vehicles" advancing towards At-Tanaf and threatening coalition and partner forces, US Central Command said in a statement. On Tuesday, coalition forces "destroyed" a pro-regime unit that was moving into the area with a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons and armed technical vehicles, the coalition said.