The US Air Force criticized the actions of Russian aircraft near American drones carrying out a counter-terrorist operation in Syria on Wednesday, accusing Moscow of allowing its fighters to engage in unsafe and unprofessional behavior.
Three US MQ-9 drones engaged in a mission to strike IS targets were forced to take evasive measures due to the harassment of the Russian fighter jets that threatened the operator’s ability to safely maneuver the drone.
They released video footage of the altercation early on Thursday, showing Russian fighter jets closing in on US drones and acting against established norms and protocols by using parachute flares in the drones’ flight path.
According to the US, this incident represents a new level of unprofessional and unsafe actions by Russian forces operating in Syria that prompted Washington to send sophisticated jets to the region to deter further altercations with Russia.
A US commander criticized Russia in June for air buffoonery of the aggressive Russian pilots that have frequently entered airspace recognized as belonging to the coalition, impeding in the process Washington’s work as part of the anti-ISIS coalition in north-east Syria.