4:35 am - Thursday November 5, 2015

Syria claims to have brought down US drone

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A US predator drone went down over Syrian territory but it is unclear whether it was shot down as claimed by the country’s government or suffered from a malfunction.

“Syrian air defences brought down a hostile US surveillance plane in northern Latakia,” the country’s state news agency Sana said in a bulletin, adding that it had crashed in a northwestern province along the Mediterranean coast, near the Turkish border.

They did not give any further details, although they broadcast footage of camouflage clad soldiers loading what it said was wreckage into the back of truck. This included a wheel and what appeared to be electronic parts.

Photos and videos of what was claimed to be wreckage also appeared on social media sites.

US defence officials said they lost contact with the unarmed MQ-1 Predator drone on Tuesday evening (GMT), but they could not determine what brought it down.

“At this time, we have no information to corroborate press reports that the aircraft was shot down,” one told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are looking into the incident and will provide more details when available.”

As well as carrying out attacks US drones are operated over Syria to provide reconnaissance of certain parts of the country.

While the Syrian military has one of the largest air defence systems in the Middle East they have not engaged with any of the US or coalition aircraft that have been flying over the country.

It would be the first time forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have taken aim at a drone since the US led coalition began carrying out airstrikes against Isis militants in the region which US officials have previously described as relatively passive.

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