A US drone has been shot down by Syria’s military over the coastal province of Latakia near a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian state media say.
"Syrian air defenses brought down a hostile US surveillance aircraft over north Latakia," AFP quoted the official SANA news agency as saying on Tuesday.
Turkish military sources told the website of the Hürriyet newspaper that the aircraft was an unarmed American Predator drone, which had took off from the US Incirlik air base in Turkey’s southern province of Adana.
The Syrian state-run television has also broadcast footage of what it referred to as the drone’s wreckage, which was being loaded onto the back of a truck by soldiers.
The US military has confirmed that communication with an unarmed predator drone over northwest Syria was lost on Tuesday and that it is investigating claims that its unmanned aircraft was downed.
“We can confirm that at approximately 1:40 p.m. EDT today, U.S. military controllers lost contact with an U.S. MQ-1 Predator unarmed remotely piloted aircraft operating over northwest Syria… At this time, we have no information to corroborate press reports that the aircraft was shot down. We are looking into the incident and will provide more details when available," a US official said.
If confirmed, the incident would be the first time Damascus has engaged a US aircraft over its airspace since the US-led military coalition began its so-called battle against the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the Syrian territory in September 2014.
The coalition, which claims to have been targeting ISIL positions, has also attacked the provinces where the ISIL militants are not active and even hit Syrian infrastructure.
The US-led coalition’s airstrikes have failed to dislodge the terrorists.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 215,000 people, according to reports. New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.
Over 7.2 million Syrians have reportedly become internally displaced due to the ongoing crisis.
The Takfiri terrorist groups, with members from several Western countries, control swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, and have been carrying out horrific acts of violence such as public decapitations and crucifixions against all communities such as Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.