FILE PHOTO: The U.S. flag flutters on a military vehicle in Syria. REUTERS/Aboud Hamam/

WASHINGTON, Dec 16 (Reuters) – The U.S. military shot down a drone near a base in southern Syria earlier this week, officials told Reuters on Thursday.

The garrison, known as Tanf, is located in a strategic area near Syria’s Tanf border crossing with Iraq and Jordan and houses a small number of U.S. troops.

Tanf is the only position with a significant American military presence in Syria outside the Kurdish-controlled north.

U.S. Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said two drones entered the Tanf garrison “deconfliction” zone on Tuesday and one of them was shot down as it moved closer to the base.

There were no casualties or damage to facilities, he added.

The news of the downing was first reported by NBC News.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the drone, but Iranian-backed forces have frequently attacked American troops with drones and rockets in eastern Syria and Iraq.

In October, a number of drones were launched against the base, though there were no American casualties.

There is concern among U.S. officials that Iranian-backed militia may increase attacks on troops in Iraq and Syria in the coming weeks, in part to mark the anniversary of the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The two were killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq on Jan.2 2020.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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