US shoots down Syrian plane ‘in self defence’
The US Central Command issued a statement confirming they had shot the plane out of the sky on Sunday as it flew over the war-torn country.
The Syrian regime’s SU-22 aircraft is said to have dropped bombs near coalition-backed fighters, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF were attacked in Ja’Din, a town they control south of Tabqah.
Several fighters were wounded in the onslaught, and were partially driven from the town as the pro-regime forces advanced.
A US F/A-18E Super Hornet immediately retaliated with a “show of force” and shot the plane down.
The US-led coalition said it was targeted “in collective self-defense of Coalition-partnered forces.”
The coalition issued a statement saying: “Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the SDF-controlled town.
“The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
“The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.
“The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally.
“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.
“The Coalition calls on all parties to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security.”
The attack began 4.30pm local time (2.30pm BST), and at 6.43pm local time (4.30pm BST) the warplane dropped bombs over Ja’din.
The SDF was on an anti-ISIS mission in the town, codenamed Operation Inherent Resolve.
But the Syrian army said the plane was also on a mission against ISIS, and the pilot was missing after the plane was hit.
They said it was a “flagrant attack was an attempt to undermine the efforts of the army as the only effective force capable with its allies … in fighting terrorism across its territory.
“This comes at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were making clear advances in fighting the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group.”
Following the attack the Coalition contacted Russia, an ally of Syria and it beleaguered leader Basahr al-Assad, to broker a halt to the attack.
The statement says the team contacted Moscow by phone using an ‘established de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation.
The US-led coalition is trying to drive out ISIS from Syria, where its numbers and territory have been significantly reduced over the past year.