The U.S. lost control of a drone over Syria, a Pentagon official said Tuesday, hours after the Syrian government said it had shot down a U.S. drone near the city of Latakia.
The Pentagon official said it was not clear whether the drone had been shot down, but the Syrian claim was being investigated.
The U.S. routinely flies drones over Syria, which has been engulfed by a civil war that began in 2011. The fighting has claimed more than 220,000 lives, according to U.N. estimates, and created a massive refugee crisis. There are nearly 4 million Syrian refugees spread out across the region.
The fighting pits President Bashar Assad’s forces against a medley of opposition groups ranging from leftist to pro-Western and Islamist. The conflict has also strengthened the self-described Islamic State, which has captured large portions of territory across Syria and Iraq.
The U.S. and its Western allies have previously said that Assad is “part of the problem and needs to go,” but in an interview with CBS broadcast Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. and its allies will have to talk to Assad to bring about a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.
“We have to negotiate in the end,” Kerry said. “And what we’re pushing for is to get him to come and do that, and it may require that there be increased pressure on him of various kinds in order to do that.”