Syrian Fighter Jet
Pentagon officials have confirmed that on Sunday, U.S. military forces have shot down a Syrian fighter jet that was bombing local forces combatting the Islamic State. Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, noted this is the first-time in history, America has shot down a Syrian aircraft.
The U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a written statement that a “U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.” The U.S. has been recruiting, training, and advising the SDF to combat ISIS troops in the region.
They have also promised to protect the moderate Syrian forces from government sponsored retribution. Officials believe the air-to-air combat is a sign the U.S. is keeping their promise. The dog-fight happened near Tabqah, a small Syrian city where the Islamic State and SDF have been fighting for control of Raqqa.
A statement from the Pentagon offered details regarding the incident saying “Pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqah in northern Syria, wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town.” The statement from the U.S. military asserted that they acted in “collective self-defense” of its partner forces.
This is not the first-time U.S. backed troops have been targeted by ISIS while fighting in the region. Earlier this month, a drone connected to Iranian-Hezbollah forces fired on SDF troops and was subsequently shot down by an American fighter jet. Tensions have continued to mount in the country after Syrian President, Bashar Assad, reportedly used sarin gas on his own people.
In retaliation for the chemical weapons attack, President Trump launched a series of missile strikes which destroyed the Syrian air base where Assad’s sarin attack originated from. The airstrike was condemned by both the Syrian and Russian governments, who claimed that “there were no chemical weapons in the country.”