The US military on Sunday shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet that bombed local forces aligned with Americans in the fight against Islamic State militants, an action that appeared to mark a new escalation of the conflict.
The US-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a written statement that a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it had dropped bombs near the US partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
According to a statement from the Pentagon, pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din in northern Syria, wounding a number of SDF fighters.
The US military statement said it acted in “collective self defense” of its partner forces and that the US did not seek a fight with the Syrian government or its Russian supporters.
The US had not shot down a Syrian regime aircraft before Sunday’s confrontation, said Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson.
US forces clashed earlier this month with Syria-allied aircraft in the region on June 8, when US officials reported that a drone likely connected to Iranian-supported Hezbollah forces fired on US-backed troops and was shot down by an American fighter jet. The incident took place in southern Syria near a base where the US-led coalition was training Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group.
An army spokesperson at the Pentagon said at the time that the drone carried more weapons and was considered a direct threat, prompting the shoot down.