SOUTHWEST ASIA --- A U.S. aircraft shot down an armed pro-Syria regime unmanned aerial vehicle today after it fired on coalition forces in southern Syria, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials said in a statement.
The pro-regime UAV, similar in size to a U.S. MQ-1 Predator, was shot down after it dropped one of several weapons it was carrying near a position occupied by coalition personnel who are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, officials said.
The shoot-down follows an engagement earlier in the day in which coalition forces destroyed two pro-regime armed technical vehicles that advanced toward coalition forces at At Tanf inside the established deconfliction zone, threatening coalition and partner forces, they added.
'Appropriate Measures to Protect Forces'
"The coalition's mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria," the statement said. "The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them. The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces near coalition and partner forces in southern Syria, however, continue to concern us, and the coalition will take appropriate measures to protect our forces."
Noting that coalition forces have been located at At Tanf for more than a year, officials said the coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally, which is beyond the capability of the Syrian regime to address. The garrison is a temporary coalition location to train vetted forces to defeat ISIS and will not be vacated until ISIS is defeated, they added.
"As long as pro-regime forces are oriented toward coalition and partnered forces, the potential for conflict is escalated," the statement said. "Coalition forces are oriented on ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley. The coalition calls on all parties to focus their efforts in the same direction to defeat ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security."