(VitalNews.org) – A U.S. drone flying over Syria was struck and damaged by flares fired from a Russian fighter jet, which flew within meters of the drone, according to sources from the U.S. military on Tuesday.
The incident took place on Sunday, a senior commander in the Air Force reported. The military official said it was an attempt by the Russian military to down the American drone, an MQ-9 Reaper. Only a week beforehand, a Russian jet flew extremely close to an American surveillance aircraft being manned by a crew of four.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich reported that one of the Russian flares hit the U.S. drone and “severely” damaged “its propeller.” He said the U.S. military calls “upon the Russian forces in Syria” to immediately stop their “reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior.” He also clarified that a crew member was able to keep the drone in the air and then return it to the home base.
This incident is the latest in a string of encounters between U.S. aircraft and Russian jets over Syrian airspace. Although U.S. leaders said there’s no connection to Russia’s continuing war in Ukraine, there’s been a noticeable increase in Middle Eastern encounters.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters during a briefing that analysts are “trying to figure out” what triggered the increase and that he doesn’t know “if it’s connected to Ukraine or not,” but that there’s currently nothing to suggest a connection.
Other commentators believe there could be a growing coordinated effort between Syria, Iran, and Russia to persuade the U.S. into leaving Syria and reducing their influence in the region. The U.S. and other allied nations have previously accused Iran of providing drones to Russia, although the Kremlin denies these allegations.
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