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U.S. and allies shoot down drone near U.S. base in Syria

A second drone that came near the at base flew away. U.S. officials said they believe the incident and an earlier attack on the base are linked to Iran or Iranian-backed groups.
Image: Green Beret, Maghaweir al-Thowra patrol southern Syria
Green Berets wait in a M-ATV Special Forces Vehicle for a gun truck near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria.Staff Sgt. William Howard / via DVIDS

The U.S. and its military allies shot down a small drone that was believed to be threatening a U.S. outpost in southern Syria Tuesday, just weeks after the same base was attacked by drones and rocket fire.

Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said that two drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) were tracked entering the airspace around At Tanf Garrison on Tuesday evening. “As one of the UAS continued its course deeper into the At Tanf Deconfliction Zone, it was assessed as demonstrating hostile intent and was shot down,” Urban said.

A British Typhoon jet shot down the incoming drone, according to a US defense official, using an advanced short-range air to air missile (ASRAAM), becoming one of the first times a heat-seeking air-to-air missile was used in a combat situation to take out a threatening drone.

The second small drone turned and left the area. It is not known if either drone carried any explosives.

Urban said there were no reports of casualties or damage to the base.

The incident comes just weeks after a coordinated attack against At Tanf Garrison that included a group of drones, some packed with explosives, followed by possible rocket fire. None of the U.S. troops stationed there were injured or killed in the attack, but the facilities were badly damaged, according to defense officials.

Iran or Iranian-backed militia groups are suspected to be behind both the earlier attack and Tuesday's drone incident, according to defense officials.

The At Tanf Garrison is in a strategic area near that Iraqi and Jordanian borders that includes a road that enables Iranian-backed militias to travel all the way from Tehran to southern Lebanon. The U.S. troops at the base train Syrian opposition forces to fight against ISIS fighters in the area.