The U.S. appears to have lost two drones over the Syrian city of Idlib on Tuesday after a mid-air collision.
An unnamed defense official described the crash incident to Military Times on Tuesday. The defense official told Military Times that the U.S. lost two drones and that there was a collision prior to the drones crashing to the ground.
The exact cause of the crash remains unclear. Some claims on social media speculated that the drones were shot down, but no proof has been provided to back those claims. The military official also did not say whether anyone shot at the drones prior to the collision that led to their crash.
“Hmm Turkey shot down US MQ-9 Reaper over Idlib? Screenshot from this video of remnants of downed UAV in Idlib youtube.com/watch?v=i1Ftch and for comparision tail part of Reaper from Paris Air Show 2013,” one Twitter user posted, with pictures comparing downed aircraft’s tail-section with that of a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper.
BTW it seems there two big UAVs were shot down. As we can see above, one is MQ-9, second possible also MQ-9 or another big UAV. pic.twitter.com/f09EVMTyPL
— Yuri Lyamin (@imp_navigator) August 18, 2020
In a second tweet, the user said “BTW it seems there two big UAVs were shot down. As we can see above, one is MQ-9, second possible also MQ-9 or another big UAV.”
Idlib, Syria has continued to see fighting stemming from the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Syrian, Iranian and Russian forces have been active in Idlib in 2020. Turkey, a NATO ally, has also been active in Idlib in 2020. President Donald Trump has, in the past, expressed support for “Turkey’s efforts to de-escalate the situation in northwest Syria.”
Unmanned MQ-9 Reapers have typically been used for armed airstrikes as well as reconnaissance missions.
MQ-9 Reapers have been downed in the past. One such Reaper drone was downed by Houthi rebels in Yemen in June of 2019. Another Reaper drone over Yemen in August of 2019, again by Houthi rebels who the U.S. suspects Iran supports.