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Senator: US at risk of military conflict with Russia, Iran in Syria

24 June 2017

A United States aircraft on Tuesday shot down an armed pro-Syrian regime Unmanned Aerial Vehicle advancing on Coalition forces in Southern Syria, according to a US-led coalition statement.

The US-led coalition said the location was close to where another pro-regime drone, which intelligence sources had also identified as Iranian, was shot down on June 8 after dropping bombs near coalition forces.

"We have agreed in the past, that is we and the Russian Federation pro-regime forces, that operations that the coalition were conducting in Syria were effectively degrading ISIS capability, and will work to restore that de-confliction chain in the next few hours", Dunford said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which include Arab and Kurdish fighters and are supported with air strikes by a USA -led coalition, began an offensive two weeks ago to seize the northern city from Islamic State, which overran it in 2014.

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The SU-22 fighter bomber was engaged by an F/A-18E Super Hornet after it had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the Pentagon said.

Russian Federation said it was cutting the "deconfliction line", a key communication channel between Moscow and Washington used to prevent mixed messages and avoid military collisions between the two powers.

The two latest shoot downs, in addition to the one on June 8, has raised questions over whether the U.S.is getting drawn into a war with Russian Federation or Syria, rather than just with ISIS.

Dillon said that as Syrian government forces move toward Abu Kamal, "if they want to fight ISIS in Abu Kamal and they have the capacity to do so, then that would be welcomed".

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As well as announcing that US-led coalition warplanes would be tracked, Russia's ministry of defence suspended a hotline set up to avoid clashes between United States and Russian aircraft over Syria. "Trump has not delivered on his promise for better relations with Moscow and the Congress is moving towards expanding sanctions against Russia", West said. One of the officials said that UAV "was assessed as a threat".

It is the first time in the Syrian conflict that the US-led coalition has shot down a Syrian jet. US warplanes launched three other airstrikes against the forces there.

We are maintaining contacts with the Americans at various levels: "both talks with the US Secretary of State and at the level of experts who are dealing with both bilateral relations and the Syrian problem", the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

Tensions between regime forces and the coalition in At Tanf are high after several incidents in recent weeks.

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The competition between the Syrian army and its allies and US-backed rebel groups has stepped up in the Badia desert that stretches to the Iraqi border, after ISIL abandoned large swaths of territory to focus on defending Raqqa and Deir Zor.