The propeller of a US drone in Syria was badly damaged by a Russian jet that fired flares at it while it was flying “dangerously” close, the US military says.
The US military accused the Russian planes of “gross disregard for flight safety”, according to the BBC.
The incident, which took place on Sunday, 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 planes and drones of “violating Syrian airspace”.
Moscow has also accused the US and allies of violating protocols that were established in 2019 to avoid confrontations in Syrian skies.
In a statement released Tuesday, the US military said the Russian fighter jet had harassed the drone while it was on a mission against Islamic State on Sunday.
US Central Command – which oversees operations in the Middle East – said the plane “launched flares directly overhead with only a few meters of separation between the aircraft”.
Despite being damaged, the MQ-9 Reaper drone was able to be remotely guided back to its base, according to the US Army.
Lieutenant General Alex Grynkewich, of Central Command, said: “We call on the Russians in Syria to immediately end this reckless, unprovoked and unprofessional behaviour.”
US forces continue to regularly 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, US commanders say, have been increasingly harassed by Russian aircraft.
On July 7, for example, the US military says Russian forces “buzzed” another US drone for two hours, shortly before the drone killed an IS leader in eastern Syria.
Less than two weeks later, on July 16, a Russian jet flew close to a manned American surveillance plane, forcing it to fly through turbulence following the Russians and endangering its four crew members, the US 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 intercepts have also been reported between US, Canadian and Chinese aircraft operating in the Pacific.
Editor : A.C.