The U.S. Air Force just slapped the Ayatollah right in the face — a message his Iranian thugs won’t forget anytime soon.
The U.S. military said it shot down an Iranian-made, armed drone in southern Syria on Tuesday, marking the third time this month that that the U.S. has downed aircraft affiliated with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
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The message is clear: Back off.
The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said a U.S. F-15 fighter jet shot down the drone “after it displayed hostile intent” while approaching a military camp near the Syria-Jordan border. A similar drone was shot down in the same location after it dropped munitions near coalition forces on June 8.
The repeated incidents in the vicinity of the Tanf camp, where U.S. forces train and advise local ground forces in the fight against ISIS, add to soaring regional tensions that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the Islamic State enters a crucial phase, with U.S.-backed forces pushing into the group’s de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa.
The U.S. on Sunday shot down a Syrian jet for the first time during the conflict near Raqqa after it dropped bombs near the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, which are battling ISIS. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin complained that the U.S. action was harsh and suspended a hotline intended to prevent such incidents.
The U.S. has also fired on Syrian government ground forces in the east on two occasions in just the last month.
A defense insider said the drone shot down Tuesday was a Shaheed 129 and appeared to have been operated by “pro-regime” forces.
In another first, Iran – another close Assad ally – fired ballistic missiles at ISIS targets in eastern Syria, in the province of Deir el-Zour, later on Sunday. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard described the strike as revenge for Islamic State attacks on Tehran earlier this month that killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 50.
A spokesman for the Guard, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, said all six ballistic missiles hit their targets, citing “local sources” and drone footage.
Sharif told The Associated Press that the missile launch reflected Iran’s “military power,” though Iran has no intention of starting another war. It is still unclear what the missiles struck, and Iran has provided few details.
Israeli security officials said Monday they were studying the missile strike to see what they could learn about its accuracy and capabilities.
The U.S. military, meanwhile, confirmed Tuesday that top ISIS cleric Turki al-Binali was killed in a coalition airstrike on May 31, in Mayadeen, Syria. The Bahraini cleric wrote religious justifications for Islam’s enslavement and sexual torture of hundreds of women from Iraq’s Yazidi and Christian minorities and helped establish the ISIS branch in Libya.
Activists and ISIS supporters reported his death at the time but Tuesday’s statement from Central Command was the first U.S. confirmation.
The Associated Press contributed to this article