OAN’s Roy Francis
9:51 AM – Thursday, July 6, 2023
The United States Air Force released a video which shows Russian jets coming dangerously close to U.S. drones that were flying over Syria.
U.S. Air Forces Central, which released the video, said that the three Russian SU-35 fighters had moved into the flight path of the drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, and began setting off parachute flares forcing the drone to take evasive maneuvers.
Lieutenant General Alex Grynkewich, Commander of 9th Air Force in the Middle East, said that there was a total of three drones flying at the time of the incident, around 10:30 a.m. local time, and that they had been conducting a mission against the Islamic State terror group.
“Against established norms and protocols, the Russian jets dropped multiple parachute flares in front of the drones, forcing our aircraft to conduct evasive maneuvers,” Grynkewich said. “Additionally, one Russian pilot positioned their aircraft in front of an MQ-9 and engaged afterburner, thereby reducing the operator’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
He went on to urge Russian forces to “cease this reckless behavior” in Syria so that the American forces can resume their “focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
“Russian military aircraft engaged in unsafe and unprofessional behavior while interacting with U.S. aircraft in Syria,” Grynkewich said. “We urge Russian forces in Syria to cease this reckless behavior and adhere to the standards of behavior expected of a professional air force so we can resume our focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
Both U.S. and Russian forces are currently operating in Syria. The U.S. forces are acting as part of the anti-ISIS coalition, and the Russian forces in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
This is the second incident between Russian fighter jets and American drones this year alone. In March two Russian SU-27 jets had forced down another MQ-9 drone after maneuvering dangerously close and damaging the drone’s propeller over the Black Sea.
The drone had been flying over international waters over the Black Sea when one of the Russian jets flew in front of the drone and dumped fuel on it several times. The jet then hit the propeller of the drone, forcing U.S. forces to bring down the drone in international waters.
Lieutenant General Grynkewich said that the aggressive behavior of the Russian is “very concerning.”
“They’re maneuvering aggressively against us when our protocols would say we’re supposed to stay… several miles apart and just monitor each other,” Grynkewich told Defense One in April. “[T]hey’re aggressively maneuvering, almost like they’re trying to dogfight, if you will. That’s very concerning.”
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