US-led coalition aircraft shoots down Syrian fighter jet near Raqqa

F/A-18E Super Hornets fighter jets AfghanistanStaff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, US Air ForceTwo U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets fly a combat patrol over Afghanistan in 2008. The aircraft in the background is deploying infra-red flares

A F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet from the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria downed a Syrian SU-22 fighter over the countryside south of Raqqa on Sunday afternoon local time, according to a coalition press release.

According to the release, on late afternoon Sunday, pro-Syrian government forces attacked the town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqah and west of Raqqa, ISIS’ self-declared capital.

Ja’Din was held by coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and the Syrian strikes wounded a number of SDF fighters. Coalition aircraft stopped the initial strike through a show of force, according to the release.

Coalition officials then contacted their Russian counterparts via a “de-confliction line” to stop the firing. However, about two hours after the first strike by pro-Syrian government forces, a SU-22 fighter from the Syrian air force dropped several bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah.

“In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces, [the SU-22] was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet,” the release said.

In a statement released on Syrian state television, the Syrian army said the US-led coalition shot down a Syrian army jet during a combat mission against ISIS fighters south of Raqqa.

The army’s statement said the plane crashed and the pilot was missing.

The US-led coalition and its local partners have come into conflict with pro-Syrian government forces and their allies several times in recent weeks, as both sides jockey to assume control of territory given up by ISIS as the terrorist group loses strength in Syria.

All those earlier clashes have come in the area around al Tanf, in southeast Syria near the country’s borders with Iraq and Jordan.

As after those incidents, the US-led coalition said in a release Sunday that:

“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 demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.”

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