US Navy F-18 Shoots Down Pro-Assad Fighter Jet After Attack On Partner Forces

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A U.S. Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian government warplane after it attacked Washington-backed fighters near ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa, the U.S.-led coalition said Sunday.

In a statement, the coalition said its aircraft “conducted a show of force” to turn back an attack by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s forces on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqah.

The coalition confirmed that a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 that had dropped bombs near SDF positions. The coalition said the shootdown took place “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces.”

The statement said “a number of SDF fighters” were wounded in the regime’s attack, but did not specify further. The coalition also said that Russian officers had been contacted on a special “de-confliction” hotline in an effort to halt the regime’s attack.

Earlier Sunday, the Syrian military accused the U.S.-led coalition of downing one of its fighter jets in southern Raqqa on a mission against ISIS militants. The military said the plane crashed and the pilot is missing. Syrian troops had said earlier they were pushing their way into the Rasafa area in southern rural Raqqa.

“The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” its statement said. “The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.”

The statement went on to call for all parties in Syria’s complex and bloody six-year-long conflict to “focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security.”

The downing of the Syrian plane follows a number of recent incidents involving the U.S. military and the Assad regime and Iranian-backed forces.

Earlier this month, a U.S. F-15 shot down an Iranian drone in southern Syria after it fired on U.S.-backed forces.

In April, the U.S. Navy launched 59 cruise missiles targeting a Syrian airbase from two destroyers in the Mediterranean following a chemical weapons attack by Assad’s forces.

(AP)