Air Force says Russian Jets Harassed U.S. Drones in Syria for 2nd Day

July 7, 2023

The U.S. Air Force said Russian fighter jets harassed U.S. drones in the skies over Syria on Thursday for a second straight day. 

“Russian military aircraft engaged in unsafe and unprofessional behavior Thursday, 9:30 A.M. local time, while interacting with U.S. MQ-9 drones carrying out our D-ISIS mission in Syria,” Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the commander of the Ninth Air Force and the combined forces air component commander for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement. “Russian aircraft dropped flares in front of the drones and flew dangerously close, endangering the safety of all aircraft involved.”

The incident occurred less than 24 hours after similar “unprofessional behavior” by Russian pilots over Syria, according to the USAF. 

On Wednesday the Defense Department released video of what it said was Russian SU-35 fighter aircraft “close in on” an MQ-9 drone. The Defense Department added that the Russian aircraft employed parachute flares in the flight path of the U.S. drones, forcing the drone to conduct evasive maneuvers.

The incidents are the latest in a series of dozens that U.S. officials assert are provocative Russian flights over Syria.

In mid-June, U.S. military was prompted to deploy F-22 Raptors to deter Russian activity in the skies above U.S. military bases there. 

In March, similar harassment by a Russian pilot resulted in a collision with an MQ-9 drone.

Lt. Gen. Grynkewich said Wednesday, “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.”

PHOTO: Russian SU-35 parachute flares, July 5

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