Russian fighter jet damaged US Reaper drone – Washington
A Russian fighter jet flying over Syria has allegedly fired flares at an American MQ-9 Reaper, damaging the drone’s propeller, in the latest close encounter decried by the illegal US occupation forces as “reckless” and “unprofessional.”
The incident occurred on Sunday, when the Russian jet flew within a few meters of an MQ-9 Reaper that the US Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) claimed was flying a counterterrorism mission on Tuesday. The command posted video footage purporting to show the fighter jet flying just above the drone and deploying flares in its path.
The drone’s propeller was severely damaged, according to AFCENT, which also posted photos purporting to show evidence of the damage. Remote operators of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) were able to maintain control and fly it back to its home base.
“The Russian fighter’s blatant disregard for flight safety detracts from our mission to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS,” AFCENT Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich told US media outlets. “We call upon the Russian forces in Syria to put an immediate end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior.”
MQ-9 Reapers were allegedly forced to make evasive maneuvers when Russian fighter jets dropped parachute flares from close range earlier this month. At the time, US forces claimed they were seeing “a new level of unprofessional and unsafe action by Russian air forces operating in Syria.” Last week, an Su-35 fighter jet endangered the crew of a US MC-12 reconnaissance plane by forcing it to fly through its wake, AFCENT claimed.
Moscow responded to the earlier incidents involving US drones by saying the UAVs flew into the airspace that Russian and Syrian forces were using during joint military drills.
US forces have illegally occupied oil-rich territory in Syria, violating the country’s sovereignty, since at least 2015. Russian forces have operated in the country at the invitation of Syria’s government and have helped to defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and internationally backed rebel militants.
Washington lawmakers voted down a bill in March that called for the withdrawal of US forces from Syria. About 900 American troops, along with hundreds of US contractors, are still deployed in the country. US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who introduced the failed bill, argued that there was “no role” for the US in Syria.
“We have tried to build a democracy out of sand, blood, and Arab militias,” Gaetz said after his bill was defeated in the US House. “Time and again, the work we do does not reduce chaos. Oftentimes, it causes chaos – the very chaos that then subsequently leads to terrorism.”