On Sunday a US military spokesman announced that an enemy drone had been shot down over eastern Syria as it flew near the vicinity of American troops. The incident happened Saturday, but with details slow to emerge by the next day which included a US F-15 fighter jet engaging the drone in the air.
US Army Colonel Wayne Marotto said, "Coalition aircraft successfully engaged and defeated a UAS through air-to-air engagement in the vicinity of Mission Support Site Green Village," while a Fox News journalist separately alleged it was an Iranian UAV based on US defense sources.
Citing officials, Fox Pentagon correspondent Lucas Tomlinson reported Sunday: "U.S. Air Force F-15E shot down Iranian drone over eastern Syria yesterday after flying ‘too close’ to some of the 900 U.S. troops deployed there."
If accurate, this would be a rare moment of direct action between US troops in Syria and the Iranians - given typically such engagements typically happen via Iranian proxies, especially the Tehran-backed Iraqi popular mobilization units.
Over the past year the Pentagon has said troops in the region have increasingly seen hostile Iraqi Shia paramilitary activity, so this latest incident likely could have involved these militias flying the drone across the border and near where US forces are occupying Syria.
However, Iranian units are also known to have long been supporting the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria - so the drone could have possibly been sent from within Syrian territory.
Ostensibly the US forces are there as part of an ongoing 'counter-ISIS' mission, yet under President Trump it was made clear that America would "secure the oil" - a mission which by all appearances has definitely continued under Biden, with the President recently even suggesting more troops might be needed in eastern Syria.
U.S. Air Force F-15E shot down Iranian drone over eastern Syria yesterday after flying ‘too close’ to some of the 900 U.S. troops deployed there: officials— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) August 22, 2021
Recall that so far President Biden has twice ordered airstrikes along the Iraq-Syria, with each time the rationale being that America's presence in Syria must be protected from cross border attacks.
One US coalition operation in late June hit one militant facility in Iraq, and two in Syria, in what was seen as a significant escalation.