The propeller of a U.S. drone in Syria was badly damaged by a Russian jet that fired incendiary bursts at it while flying “dangerously close,” the U.S. military says.
— US AFCENT (@USAFCENT) July 25, 2023
According to the report, the US military accused the Russian planes of “complete disregard for aviation security”. BBC.
Sunday’s incident is the latest in a series of intercepts between Russian, American and Chinese aircraft.
While Russia has not commented on the latest incident, earlier this week it accused US and allied aircraft and drones of “violating Syrian airspace”.
Moscow has also accused the United States and its allies of violating a protocol established in 2019 to avoid conflicts in Syrian skies.
In a statement released Tuesday, the U.S. military said a Russian fighter jet harassed the drone while on a mission against Islamic State on Sunday.
The US Central Command – which oversees operations in the Middle East – said the aircraft “launched flares directly overhead with only a few meters of separation between the aircraft”.
According to the US military, the MQ-9 Reaper drone was able to be remotely guided to its base despite being damaged.
Lieutenant General Alex Grinkevich of the Central Command said: “We call on the Russians in Syria to immediately stop this reckless, unprovoked and unprofessional behaviour.”
US forces continue to conduct air and ground missions alongside allied forces in Syria and Iraq.
In June alone, U.S. forces conducted 37 missions that resulted in 13 Islamic State operatives killed and 21 captured, according to the U.S. military.
Those missions, U.S. commanders say, are increasingly harassed by Russian aircraft.
For example, on July 7, just before a drone killed an IS leader in eastern Syria, the US military says Russian forces “jammed” another US drone for two hours.
Less than two weeks later, on July 16, a Russian jet flew close to a U.S. surveillance drone, forcing the Russians to fly through turbulence and endangering its four crew members, the U.S. said.
Similar incidents – including at least one collision between a Russian drone and a US aircraft – have also occurred in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Other similar interceptions have been reported between US, Canadian and Chinese aircraft operating in the Pacific.
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