A U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian army jet on Sunday in the southern Raqqa countryside, with Washington saying the jet had dropped bombs near U.S.-backed forces and Damascus saying the plane was downed while flying a mission against Islamic State militants.
A Syrian army statement released on Syrian state television said the plane crashed and the pilot was missing in the first such downing of a Syrian jet by the United States since the start of the conflict in 2011.
The army statement said it took place on Sunday afternoon near a village called Rasafah.
The “flagrant attack was an attempt to undermine the efforts of the army as the only effective force capable with its allies … in fighting terrorism across its territory,” the Syrian army said.
“This comes at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were making clear advances in fighting the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group,” it added.
The U.S. Central Command later issued a statement saying the Syrian plane was downed “in collective self-defense of Coalition-partnered forces,” identified as fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Tabqah.
It said that “pro-Syrian regime forces” had earlier attacked an SDF-held town south of Tabqa and wounded a number of fighters, driving them from the town.