Russian Fighter Jet Fires Flares, Damaging U.S. Drone over Syria

July 25, 2023

A Russian fighter jet flew within meters of a U.S. drone and fired flares that damaged the MQ-9 Reaper over Syria, the U.S. military said Tuesday. 

It’s the latest in a string of aggressive moves by Russian aircraft over Syria. Earlier this month, the U.S. military said Russian fighter jets had harassed U.S. drones in Syrian skies two days in a row, including the firing of flares and forcing the American craft to take evasive maneuvers.

The Pentagon at the time called the incidents “a new level of unprofessional and unsafe action by Russian air forces operating in Syria.”

A senior Air Force commander said the latest incident occurred on Sunday, and came just a week after another incident in which a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to U.S. surveillance aircraft carrying crew, putting the lives of four Americans on board in jeopardy. 

Of the latest incident, Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the head of U.S. Air Forces Central, said in a statement, “One of the Russian flares struck the U.S. MQ-9, severely damaging its propeller.”

He repeated earlier U.S. calls upon Russian forces in Syria to “end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior.”

There are currently about 900 U.S. forces in Syria conducting military missions against the terrorist organization ISIS—which is also Russia’s purported mission in the country.

U.S. and Russian military officers communicate frequently over a deconfliction phone line during close calls such as this latest involving the Russian jet and the Reaper drone, protesting the other side’s actions.

PHOTO Source: U.S. Air Force 

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