Syrian Government Claims It Shot Down RPA

An MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft crashed in Syria last week, marking the first reported RPA loss of Operation Inherent Resolve. The Syrian government claimed its air defense forces shot it down, although the Pentagon said the aircraft lost contact with its operators. Syrian state media reported the RPA was shot down by air defense units in the area of Latakia, Syria’s main port city in a region dominated by Bashar Assad’s government forces. Photos posted by the Sana state news agency show the aircraft was indeed an MQ-1 (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems labeling can be seen in several images released by the Syrians, the aircraft’s US manufacturer), but the Syrians do not identify the operator. The US has flown RPAs extensively over Iraq and Syria, but mostly in western Syria where ISIS forces are concentrated. Some flights stage from Incirlik AB, Turkey, to support ISR requirements, though the Turkish government forbids airstrikes from its territory. There is evidence, however, the aircraft went off course prior to its crash. A Defense Department official told reporters in the aftermath of the crash that “US military controllers” lost contact with an unarmed MQ-1 operating over “Northwest Syria” on March 17. There is “no information to corroborate press reports” the aircraft was shot down, they added, but DOD is examining the incident.