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US-led coalition shoots down suspected Iranian drone over Syria

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, June 13, 2020. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. William Howard)
August 23, 2021

A suspected Iranian drone was shot down by U.S.-led coalition forces over Syria on Saturday.

U.S. Army Col Wayne Marotto, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), told Reuters, “Coalition aircraft successfully engaged and defeated a [unmanned aircraft system] through air to air engagement in the vicinity of Mission Support Site Green Village.”

OIR is the name for the U.S.-led military coalition mission in Iraq.

Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson separately tweeted that the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in question, was in fact an Iranian model and that the coalition aircraft that shot it down was an F-15E Strike Eagle.

“U.S. Air Force F-15E shot down Iranian drone over eastern Syria yesterday after flying ‘too close’ to some of the 900 U.S. troops deployed there: officials,” Tomlinson tweeted.

Aviation Week editor Steve Trimble also tweeted that the F-15E downed the UAS with an AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile.

“SCOOP: A US F-15E shot down a UAS near the Green Village military base in eastern Syria yesterday. I’m also told a general officer was flying the F-15E and fired the AIM-9X,” Trimble tweeted. “The ownership and identity of the UAS is not being released. Story:

Mission Support Site Green Village, is an OIR base in the Deir ez-Zor province of eastern Syria.

While it has not been directly confirmed by U.S. military officials that the downed drone was of Iranian origin, Iran has supported Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds force units have been reported in Syria at various points throughout the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which began more than a decade ago in March of 2011.

Suspected Iranian drones have also seen increased use throughout the Middle East in recent months.

Explosive-laden drones of suspected Iranian origin have attacked several bases used by U.S. forces this spring.

At the end of July, an Israeli-owned oil tanker was also targeted by at least three explosive-laden drones. The first two drones missed the ship, the M/T Mercer Street. A third drone impacted the ship, resulting in the deaths of two crew members. Following the drone attack, an explosive investigative team from the USS Ronald Reagan boarded the Israeli oil tanker to investigate. The team reported finding drone parts consistent with Iranian “Kamikaze” drone designs.

Journalist Seth Frantzman, who is also the author of the book “The Drone Wars,” told Stars & Stripes that Iran exports its drone technology throughout the Middle East and it can be hard to trace who is receiving the drones and through which avenues.

Frantzman said the hard-to-trace proliferation of drone technology “immediately lends itself to use … in weird vacuums, ungoverned spaces,” and military officials are scrambling to develop and deploy the necessary measures to stop them.