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After Russia harasses US drones over Syria for 2nd day, Air Force responds: 'Cease this reckless behavior'

Russian fighter jets harassed United States Air Force drones over Syria for a second time in 24 hours, U.S. Air Forces Central said Thursday.

A new video released Thursday showed the Russian aircraft flying dangerously close to and deploying flares near several U.S. drones. It was released the day after the U.S. military released similar footage on Wednesday.

“Russian military aircraft engaged in unsafe and unprofessional behavior Thursday, 9:30 A.M. local time, while interacting with U.S. MQ-9 drones carrying out our D-ISIS mission in Syria,” said Lt Gen Alexus Grynkewich, Commander, 9th AF and CFACC for CENTCOM. “Russian aircraft dropped flares in front of the drones and flew dangerously close, endangering the safety of all aircraft involved.”

“This is the second instance of dangerous behaviors by Russian pilots within the past 24 hours, with the first happening Wednesday at approximately 10:40 A.M. local time,” said Lt Gen Alexus Grynkewich, Commander, 9th AF and CFACC for CENTCOM.

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He added: “These events represent another example of unprofessional and unsafe actions by Russian air forces operating in Syria, which threaten the safety of both Coalition and Russian forces.”

Parachute flares

In this image from video released by the U.S. Air Force, parachute flares, that according to the U.S. Air Force, released by a Russian SU-35 are visible near a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, over Syria.  (U.S. Air Force via AP)

The U.S. military has also urged Russian forces in Syria to “cease this reckless behavior and adhere to the standards of behavior expected of a professional air force, so we can resume our focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS,” he said.

A plane over Syria

In this image from video released by the U.S. Air Force, a Russian SU-35 flies near a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, over Syria.  (U.S. Air Force via AP)

On Wednesday, Grynkewich said one of the Russian pilots moved their aircraft in front of a drone and engaged its afterburner, which greatly increased air pressure in the immediate area of the drone, reducing the drone operator’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.

Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday that Russia’s actions over Syria “increases the risk of escalation or miscalculation.”

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