US releases footage of Russian fighter jets ‘harassing’ US drones over Syria
The US has accused Russian fighter aircraft of “harassing” drones that had been engaged in a mission over Syria.
Footage was released by US Central Command that appears to show the Russian SU-35 fighter jets flying close to the US MQ-9, which were monitoring so-called Islamic State (IS) targets.
US Air Force Lieutenant General Alex Grynkewich described the Russian manoeuvre as “unsafe and unprofessional.”
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The footage of the US MQ-9 aircraft shows that it had to carry out evasive manoeuvres as the Russian jets dropped parachute flares.
“Against established norms and protocols, the Russian jets dropped multiple parachute flares in front of the drones, forcing our aircraft to conduct evasive manoeuvres,” Lt Gen 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.”
Lt Gen Grynkewich accused the three Russian fighter jets of “harassing the drones”.
In his statement, Lt Gen Grynkewich concluded by saying: “We urge Russian forces in Syria to cease this reckless behaviour and adhere to the standards of behaviour expected of a professional air force so we can resume our focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS.”
Both the US and Russia are operating in Syria, the US as part of the anti-IS coalition, whereas Russia is operating in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.