The military coalition led by the United States in Syria has shot down a suspected Iranian drone in the skies over eastern Syria, possibly increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran in the region.
The drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), was neutralised by a jet operated by the US-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve on Saturday. Although it has not been fully confirmed, it is reported by many that the drone belonged to Iranian forces monitoring the territory in eastern Syria.
According to the coalition’s spokesperson, US Colonel Wayne Marotto, the “Coalition aircraft successfully engaged and defeated a UAS through air to air engagement in the vicinity of Mission Support Site Green Village.” He added that the reason for engagement was that it was deemed a threat and self-defence measures were taken.”
Marotto stressed that the safety of coalition personnel “is the highest priority” and that it “has the inherent right to self-defence.”
This comes amid continued tensions between Washington and Tehran in the region, with both rivals backing opposing sides and with Iranian proxy forces attempting to force the removal of US military forces from Iraq and Syria.
It also follows on from numerous rocket attacks on US forces and military bases in Iraq and eastern Syria, as well as the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad over the past year. Iran has denied any responsibility for the attacks, however, maintaining that the groups it backs operated independently.
Over the past few years, Iran has managed to develop its armed drones industry in an effort to match and counter competing powers in the region that have more advanced drone technology, such as the US and Turkey. Last month, Jordan’s King Abdullah stated that his country was attacked by Iranian-made UAVs, signifying the rise in Tehran’s drone capabilities and use.