An MQ-1 Predator crashed in Syria. According to Syria state media it was shot down by Syrian air defenses.
The U.S. lost contact with an unarmed MQ-1 Predator drone on Mar. 17.
Whilst Pentagon officials could not confirm whether the aircraft was shot down or crashed because of a failure, the Syrian SANA news agency reported that the unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down in the Latakia province by the Syrian air defenses.
Drone downed near Latakia Syria!!! American,European,Israelian? @Tom_Antonov @green_lemonnn @towersight @secretdifa3 pic.twitter.com/XkhqhJRNse
— kitadica (@KitadicaCool) 17 Marzo 2015
Indeed, images of the wreckage of an aerial vehicle were later posted on social media: provided the photographs were really taken at the crash site, they show parts of the UAV (including a wheel of the landing gear) along with parts of what seems to be the body an S-125 Neva/Pechora (NATO reporting name SA-3 Goa) Soviet surface-to-air missile system: this may confirm the version of the Syrian State Media according to which the MQ-1, most probably operating out of Incirlik airbase, in Turkey, was shot down.
The event is interesting for several reasons:
1) it proves U.S. drones perform ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions in a region (on the western coast of Syria) currently not interested by the air strikes targeting the Islamic State. Monitoring jihadist activities in the area? Keeping an eye on the fightings between rebels and loyalist forces? Monitoring shipments that reach Syria via sea?
2) if the shot down is confirmed, it proves that Assad fires back and Syrian air defenses can pose a threat to manned and unmanned aircraft that operate inside the Syrian airspace.
3) the area where the drone was allegedly shot down is the same where a Turkish RF-4E jet was shot down by a coastal air defense battery.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force