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Tuesday
Jun202017

What you need to know about the 3 Americans still detained in North Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The death of U.S. student Otto Warmbier has brought a wave of sorrow and a new stumbling block to any sort of negotiations between the United States and North Korea. But as the United States determines how to retaliate, if at all, there is another enormous risk to consider: the three U.S. citizens still detained by the country's authoritarian regime.

North Korea revealed on May 7 that Kim Hak-song had been detained on charges such as espionage and crimes against the state, making him the third American now being held and the 10th in total to be detained by North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong Un. Only one country has detained more Americans than North Korea: Iran, where five Americans are missing or detained.

Although Donald Trump tweeted during the campaign that similar detentions would not happen if he became president, Kim Hak-song is also the second American to be detained since Trump's inauguration.

As the Trump administration works to secure their release and thwart the North's nuclear and missile program, it will have to weigh pushing the regime too far on bringing these three men home. Here is what we know about the U.S. citizens detained in North Korea.

Kim Dong-chul

The American who has been held the longest in North Korea at this time is Kim Dong-chul. A naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in South Korea, he is a businessman in his mid-60s who at one time lived in Fairfax, Virginia.

He was living in China near the border with North Korea and working in a special economic zone in North Korea as the president of a trade and hospitality company. After years of openly crossing the border, he was detained in October 2015, accused of being a spy for South Korea and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.

He has a wife and two daughters in China. His detention wasn't publicly known until January 2016, when a CNN crew was allowed to interview him.

Tony Kim

Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name, Kim Sang-duk, is a 58-year-old U.S. citizen who was temporarily teaching an accounting course at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, North Korea’s only private university.

He was detained at the airport while trying to fly to China with his wife on April 22. It is unclear what prompted his detention, but he has been charged with hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country.

He was the first American detained under Trump.

Kim Hak-song

Little is known about Kim Hak-song.

He was being held for "hostile acts against the country," the regime's official news agency said, although details about the alleged acts were not provided by North Korean authorities.

Kim had also been working at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, in agricultural development with its "experimental farm," the university said in a statement. He was arrested May 7 as he was "about to leave … after a visit of several weeks," it added.

The university said that Kim Hak-song, like Tony Kim, was detained not because of his university work but for other unspecified reasons.

Other Americans Next?

The number of Americans in North Korea at any given time fluctuates and is difficult to determine. But one of them could easily become the next detainee in a country where a brutal regime monitors its denizens' every move.

As of last month, there were around 40 Americans, the majority of whom are ethnic Koreans, on the faculty of the Pyongyang University of Science & Technology, where both Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song worked.

In addition, between 800 and 1,250 Americans visited North Korea annually in past years, according to tour companies working in the reclusive country. Those numbers may decline after Warmbier's death, especially because Young Pioneer Tours -- the group that organized Warmbier's tour -- has canceled future trips for Americans.

Warmbier, who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than 17 months and was returned home to Ohio last week in a coma, died this week, his family said Monday.

The State Department strongly recommends Americans not travel to North Korea.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun202017

Princess Kate laughs off royal fall at Royal Ascot

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Princess Kate quickly laughed off a fall by a fellow royal at Tuesday's Royal Ascot.

Kate, 35, was seated in a carriage alongside Prince William when Sophie, the countess of Wessex, stepped into the carriage and lost her balance, falling right into Kate’s hands.

Kate’s mouth opened in shock as she braced for Sophie, the wife of Prince Edward. Both women were then seen laughing off the incident, while William and Edward smiled in the background.

William, Kate, Edward and Sophie joined other members of the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, for the first day of the famous horse racing event.

The queen, dressed in a bright green outfit and hat, led race attendees in observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester and London terror attacks as well as the Grenfell Tower fire.

Queen Elizabeth, 91, went for a horseback ride herself on Monday in record-breaking heat on the grounds of Windsor Castle, near the Thames. She was photographed wearing a scarf over her head as she rode her pony alongside Head Groom Terry Pendry.

Queen Elizabeth started riding at age 4 after receiving a pony named Peggy and is still seen regularly riding her horses in rain or shine, winter or summer.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun202017

Two elephants rescue baby elephant from zoo's swimming pool

YouTube.com/Seoul Grandpark(SEOUL) -- Two adult elephants rescued an elephant calf from drowning in a swimming pool at the Grand Park Zoo in Seoul, South Korea.

As seen in the CCTV footage, the calf is playing in the water next to one of the adult elephants. Suddenly, the calf falls into the enclosure's pool.

The calf tries unsuccessfully to swim, and one adult elephant tries to help from outside of the pool.

Another adult elephant runs to the area and walks into the swimming pool with the other adult elephant in an attempt to rescue the panicked calf.

Together, they're able to guide the calf to the side of the pool. Once at the edge, the adult elephants hold up the calf by their trunks.

Then, side-by-side, the adult elephants guide the calf out of the pool and back onto solid ground.

Zoo officials said none of the elephants were injured during the close call.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun202017

Pro-Syrian regime drone shot down by US fighter jet

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An armed pro-Syrian regime drone was shot down late Monday night by a U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jet after the drone was detected approaching U.S. military forces in southeastern Syria.

It is the second downing of a pro-regime drone in the area and comes amid heightened tensions in the region following the U.S. shootdown of a Syrian fighter jet.

"The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. after it displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces," according to a statement issued by Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS.

"The Coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS," said the statement. "This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near Coalition forces before it was shot down, June 8."

The armed drone was determined to be a threat and was shot down by a U.S. Air Force F-15E after the drone "continued to advance on the Coalition position without diverting its course it was shot down."

The statement emphasized that the coalition "has made it clear to all parties publically and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated."

The drone shoot down comes amid heightened tensions in Syria following the shoot down on Sunday of a Syrian fighter jet that had dropped bombs on local forces backed by the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.

That incident led Russia's defense ministry to declare that it would track as targets any American or coalition aircraft that flew west of the Euphrates River.

In light of that the coalition announced that it would re-position its aircraft flying over Syria as a prudent measure.

Last week, another Iranian-made drone flown by pro-regime forces was shot down after it dropped munitions close to U.S. and partner forces. The bomb landed a few hundred yards away and did not explode but the action was deemed a threat and the drone was shot down.

Tensions have escalated in the At Tanf area as an Iranian-backed militia force has pushed into a deconfliction zone that surrounds the At Tanf garrison where training conducted. The U.S. has conducted three airstrikes over the past month against those forces as they entered the deconfliction zone and moved towards At Tanf.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun202017

Tropical Storm Bret pounds Trinidad 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Tropical Storm Bret delivered a direct hit to Trinidad and Tobago early Tuesday morning, leaving a trail of devastation behind.

Bret began pounding away at the small twin-island republic late Monday night, with the southern part of Trinidad being hardest hit.

According to the National Hurricane Center, maximum sustained winds neared 40mph, with higher gusts, at times.

Disaster response officials say crews will be out working to restore power on Tuesday, after the storm left many homes in the dark, some of them without roofs.

So far there haven't been any reports of storm-related deaths. However, elderly patients at a psychiatric hospital narrowly escaped injury, after a tree came crashing through the roof, according to published reports.

Posts on social media showed widespread flooding on streets and even in homes. Some roads becoming impassable because of fallen trees and utility poles.

Up to early Tuesday, officials said all flights out of Trinidad and Tobago have either been "suspended or canceled." However, the country's two airports remained open with limited operations.

The storm hasn't done the usually unreliable public transportation system any favors, as officials say there will be limited bus service on Tuesday, depending on whether roads are accessible.

Coming off a long weekend -- Monday was Trinidad's Labor Day holiday -- students are getting an extra day off, as all public schools, as well as university campuses will be closed on Tuesday. Banks will also be closed. However, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said there was no need to close government offices.

The effects of the storm were also felt along the northeast coast of Venezuela and in some parts of Grenada.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun192017

London mayor on attack against Muslims: 'Terrorism is terrorism'

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- London's Metropolitan Police commissioner announced that the Muslim community attending prayers will see police protection in the wake of a man driving a van into a crowd of people outside a mosque in what authorities called a terrorist attack.

One person who had been receiving first aid before the attack, which occurred just after midnight prayers on Monday, died on the scene, but it is unclear at this time whether he died as a result of what took place.

At least 11 people were injured in the incident, and the London Ambulance Service said in a statement Monday that it took nine patients to three hospitals in the city and treated others at the scene for minor injuries.

A 48-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. No other suspects have been identified, police said.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said the incident, near Finsbury Park in the north of London, was "quite clearly an attack on Muslims."

She later told reporters Monday, "The people in the Muslim community attending prayers will see their police protecting them in the coming days and nights."

Prime Minister Theresa May called the incident, which mirrored other high-profile terror attacks in which vehicles were used as weapons, "every bit as sickening as those that have come before."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said "terrorism is terrorism."

"It doesn't matter whether you're inspired by a perverse force of Islam -- a perverse version of Islam -- or by you're inspired by some other motives to try and terrorize others. The intention is the same, to divide communities, to make us stop leading the lives that we do," he said.

Khan said there has been a spike in hate crime, including against Muslims, since the recent London bridge attack.

Eyewitnesses interviewed by ABC News said people had gathered outside the mosque after prayers when the van drove into them.

A man identified as Jermain Jackman told the BBC the sidewalks were "packed with people walking home" when the incident occurred.

"It was a van that mounted the pavement as men and women were leaving the mosque to go home to their families and friends and their loved ones," Jackson said.

The Muslim Council of Britain called the incident a "terror attack" and the "most violent manifestation" of Islamophobia.

"During the night, ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship," the Muslim Council said in a statement, adding that "Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia" over the past weeks and months.

"We urge calm as the investigation establishes the full facts, and in these last days of Ramadan, pray for those affected and for justice," the statement concluded.

Shortly after the incident took place, Khan referred to it as a "horrific terrorist attack."

Khan also called it "a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.

"While this appears to be an attack on a particular community, like the terrible attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge it is also an assault on all our shared values of tolerance, freedom and respect," Khan said in a statement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun192017

Timeline of Otto Warmbier's saga in North Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI, Ohio) -- The American college student who had been imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year has died after returning to the U.S. in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, according to a statement from his family.

Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March 2016 after being accused of attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his Pyongyang hotel while visiting the country. The details of his detention and what led to the unresponsive wakefulness are still unknown, but he passed away Monday -- just days after U.S. officials secured his release and returned him to his family in Ohio.

Here is the timeline of Warmbier’s ordeal.

January 2016

Warmbier, then 21, was visiting North Korea as part of a tourist group arranged by Young Pioneer Tours, a tour agency based in Xian, China. He was arrested on Jan. 2 at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on the last day of a five-day tour.

Three weeks later, North Korea announced it was holding Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, for a “hostile act” against the state. In late February, Warmbier appeared in a video released by North Korea’s state news agency.

“I committed my crime,” he said in the video, asking for forgiveness. It is not known if Warmbier had delivered those statements under duress.

The video could not be independently verified.

March 2016

Warmbier, of Wyoming, Ohio, reportedly said in a tearful statement ahead of the trial in Pyongyang that he tried to steal the poster in exchange for a $10,000 used car.

"I have made the worst mistake of my life," the student said in a March 16 court hearing.

He also said that the Z Society, a secret club at the University of Virginia, promised him membership if he was successful at stealing the poster, according to The New York Times, citing North Korean state media. A member at the Z society at UVA that the organization had never been in contact with Warmbier.

Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Since his detention, American officials have repeatedly urged North Korean officials -- in public and in private -- to give the Swedish consulate access to Warmbier and the three other American citizens now detained. These pleas come amid regular pushes for their release.

February 2017

After he was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson briefed President Donald Trump on the situation and Trump directed Tillerson to take all appropriate measures to secure the release of American hostages in North Korea, State Department officials said Tuesday. Tillerson began the effort and routinely updated the president, the officials said.

May 2017

The special representative for North Korea policy at the U.S. State Department met high-level representatives from the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo, Norway, the State Department said. North Koreans reportedly agreed to authorize the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang to pay a consular visit to all four detainees, according to the State Department -– although it is unclear if they were ever able to conduct that visit.

Student released from North Korea has been in a coma for more than a year, family says

Sometime afterward, North Korea then urgently requested an in-person meeting with the United States in New York City, the State Department said.

June 6, 2017

State Department Special Representative Joseph Yun met with DPRK UN Mission Ambassador Pak in New York City. During this meeting, Yun learned about Warmbier's medical condition, the State Department said.

June 6 through June 11, 2017

After consulting Trump, Tillerson instructed Yun to prepare to travel to North Korea to bring Warmbier back to the United States, according to the State Department, which promptly organizes a medical team and an airplane to travel to North Korea.

Sometime during that week, Warmbier’s family was notified of his condition, according to a statement released by the family.

June 12, 2017

North Korean officials met the American delegation in Pyongyang, the State Department said. Upon arrival, Yun and two doctors were able to visit Warmbier that morning, according to the State Department. The visit was the first time the United States was able to confirm Warmbier's status after he was sentenced.

The State Department said that Yun demanded Warmbier's release while on the ground, but sources tell ABC News that Yun and others made the arrangements for his release prior to Yun's trip.

June 13, 2017

Warmbier was evacuated from North Korea, accompanied by a medical team and a State Department representative. He arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the evening, and was to be transported by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

June 19, 2017

Otto Warmbier passed away surrounded by his family at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, according to a statement from his family. He was 22 years old.

In their statement, his family said Warmbier was "unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands" when he returned to the U.S., appearing "very uncomfortable -- almost anguished." That changed within a day, they said. "He was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that."

The family remembered Otto as "a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun192017

Driver of police targeted 'terror attack' in Paris had guns, gas canisters in vehicle 

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- A vehicle carrying two gas canisters, two handguns and one Kalashnikov collided with a police car near the Champs-Elysées in Paris around 3:40 p.m. local time Monday, and the incident is being investigated as an act of terror, the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed to ABC News.

The 31-year-old driver of the white Renault Mégane set his car on fire before hitting a police vehicle, with the hopes of creating an explosive impact, said French officials.

Police did not fire a single shot at the scene, but officials confirmed that the driver, who had been flagged for extremism, was badly burned and died. No injuries were reported in the incident as the explosion was limited to the inside of the driver's vehicle, police said.

Police quickly declared the situation "under control" and a bomb squad responded to the scene after explosives and a gun were found inside the driver's vehicle.

Andrew Cawley, a witness to the incident, wrote on Facebook that he saw smoke coming from a white car, following a series of loud noises.

“We were sleeping in the park around 20 [meters] away from the incident," Cawley wrote. "There was a very loud bang followed by 3 'popping' sounds (like gun shots) then silence."

Gérard Collomb, France's interior minister, did not hesitate to call the attack an attempt to commit terrorism.

“Once again, French police were targeted with this attempted terror attack on the Champs-Elysées," Collomb said, while adding that the attacker's motives weren't immediately clear.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun192017

What we know about Navy destroyer's deadly collision with container ship

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released(TOKYO) -- The Japanese coast guard is now investigating the deadly collision between the Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off the coast of Japan Saturday that killed seven U.S. sailors and injured several more.

It is unclear whether there were any warning signs leading up to the collision.

Here's what we know:

The collision happened early Saturday


The USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Yokosuka, Japan, before 2:20 a.m. Saturday local time, according to the U.S. Navy.

The Navy destroyer was operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, when it collided with the container ship.

The area is often busy with sea traffic, with as many as 400 ships passing through it every day, according to Japan's coast guard. The water's fast currents also make it a tricky area to navigate.

Authorities have not speculated on the cause of the crash.

The container ship made a sudden turn shortly before the collision

The route of the container ship ACX Crystal, provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic, shows that the ship made a sudden turn around 1:30 a.m., as if possibly trying to avoid something, before continuing eastward.

The ACX Crystal then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision.

It took nearly an hour for the collision to be reported

The coast guard originally said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m. because when the container ship reported the incident it at 2:25 a.m., it said the collision had just happened. The coast guard later changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m. after interviewing crewmembers aboard the container ship.

Coast guard officials are trying to get a hold of a device with communication records to further examine the details of the crash, which is also being investigated by Japan's Transport Safety Board.

A spokeswoman for the NYK Line, the ship's operator, agreed with the earlier timing, but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for the 50 minutes between the time of the collision and when it was reported.

Seven sailors were killed

Initially after the collision, five sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald were reported injured and seven sailors were reported missing. The remains of the missing sailors were later found in the berthing compartments, which were flooded.

The deceased sailors were identified as: Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.

Four sailors and the ship's commanding officer were medically evacuated by a Japanese coast guard helicopter, Cmdr. Richard Gourley of the U.S. Naval Forces Japan said. The 7th fleet later confirmed that the sailors were in stable condition and were being treated for lacerations and bruises at the Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

The captain of the Fitzgerald, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, suffered a head injury in the collision.

The warship sustained 'extensive' damage

The USS Fitzgerald sustained damage on its starboard side and experienced flooded in some spaces as a result of the collision, according to the Navy.

At a news conference Sunday, Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin of the 7th fleet described the damage as "extensive." One side of the destroyer suffered a big puncture and gash below the waterline, and three compartments were severely damaged, Aucoin said.

"The water flow is tremendous, and so there wasn’t a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea...," he said. "They had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface. It was traumatic.”

While the ship will require "significant repair," it is "salvageable," Aucoin said, adding that he hopes the repairs take less than a year.

The container ship’s left bow was dented and scraped in the collision as well.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun192017

Russia warns it will treat US-led coalition jets in parts of Syria as targets

Purestock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- The Russian Defense Ministry blasted the U.S.' shooting down of a Syrian regime fighter jet as a "massive violation of international law" and said it will begin treating U.S.-led coalition jets flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as targets.

The ministry's comments Monday came after a U.S. Navy fighter jet on Sunday shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had dropped bombs on Syrian rebel forces who are fighting ISIS in the country.

It was the first time the U.S. has engaged in air-to-air combat in Syria and signaled an escalation of the conflict. The incident is also the first time an American aircraft has shot down any other country’s aircraft in air-to-air combat since 1999 during the Kosovo air campaign when a U.S. Air Force F-16 shot down a Serbian Mig-29.

Russia, which is backing the Syrian government regime in its civil war against rebel forces, slammed the U.S. action as a violation of Syria's sovereignty.

"Repeated combat actions by U.S. aviation under the cover of counterterrorism against lawful armed forces of a country that is a member of the U.N. are a massive violation of international law and de facto a military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The ministry also warned that any coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria “will be tracked by the Russian ground and air anti-aircraft defense systems as air targets in the areas where Russian aviation is on combat missions in the Syrian sky.”

Sunday’s downing of the Syrian jet occurred in an area southwest of the Euphrates River. And the U.S.-led coalition conducts missions in areas west of the Euphrates River near Manbij and Al Bab, two towns retaken from ISIS by U.S.-backed rebel forces.

The coalition said in a statement that its focus is on fighting ISIS, not the Syrian regime or Russian forces, but that it will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces coming under attack.

The incident occurred in the town of Ja'Din, south of Tabqa, Syria, which had recently been retaken from ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces supported by the U.S. in the fight against the militant group. SDF came under attack from regime forces in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad around 4:30 p.m. Syria time. A number of SDF fighters were wounded in the assault, and the SDF soon left Ja'Din.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force overhead that stopped the initial pro-regime advance towards the town.

"Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established 'de-confliction line' to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing," said a statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS.

"At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet," said the statement.

The Syrian pilot is believed to have been able to eject from the aircraft, according to a U.S. official.

The Russian Defense Ministry contradicted the coalition claim that the air safety hotline had been used and noted that there were Russian aircraft in the area at the time of the shootdown.

The ministry said it would stop its participation in the deconfliction line, much as it did following the American cruise missile strikes in Syria in April. Despite the Russian announcement at the time both the U.S. and Russian militaries continued use of the air safety hotline for Syria.

Ja'Din is approximately two kilometers north of an established East-West SDF-Syrian Regime de-confliction area.

In the statement, the coalition stressed its goals and that it will defend its partnered forces.

"The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat," it said.

"The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated," it added.

The shootdown is the latest escalation between the U.S.-led coalition and pro-regime Assad forces in Syria. Over the last four weeks, the U.S. has conducted three airstrikes at pro-regime Assad forces, backed by Iran, that have moved into a de-confliction zone around the town of at Tanf in southwest Syria, which is the location of a coalition training base for local forces fighting ISIS.

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