A U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian plane Su-22 Sunday near the Islamic State group-held city of Raqqa after the plane dropped bombs near coalition forces supported by the U.S. This marked the latest escalation between the U.S. and Syria since the civil war began in the middle eastern country six years ago.
The attack on the Syrian aircraft came hours after pro-Syrian regime forces attacked U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the village of Ja'Din, southwest of Raqqa, according to a press statement released by Combined Joint Task Force, the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State group, also called ISIS.
Conflict Intelligence Team — a not-for profit founded by blogger and activist Ruslan Leviev and three others in 2014 with the aim of investigating reports of military activity in Ukraine and Syria — tweeted that Syria Ministry of Defense has confirmed that their jet was attacked by an international coalition.
"The Coalition's mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. 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 statement read.
A statement, according to the Washington Post, distributed by the Syrian military said the aircraft’s lone pilot was killed in the attack and that the jet was carrying out a mission against the ISIS.
The downing of the Syrian jet by U.S. forces came on the same day when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps launched several midrange missiles from inside Iran at targets in Syria, several media outlets reported citing the Iran military. The attack was aimed to punish the ISIS forces who carried out the terrorist attacks in Tehran recently.
The Revolutionary Guards said, according to the New York Times, the missile launches "targeted the headquarters and meeting place and suicide car assembly line of ISIS terrorists” in the province of Deir al-Zour, where Islamic State group forces surround an estimated 200,000 people in a government-held section of the provincial capital of the same name.
The missile strikes are the first reported ground-to-ground attack from Iran into Syria since the latter got embroiled in a civil war in 2011.
However, U.S. officials said there appeared to be no direct link between the two attacks. They also said that Syria is a complex region in which the Assad regime, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel and the U.S., with its allies, have carried out air or missile strikes to achieve different and competing objectives.
The launching of the Iranian missiles came hours after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a statement on his website, vowed Iran would "slap its enemies" in honour of the victims' families, including those killed in Syria and Iraq, according to Al Jazeera.