US criticizes Russia over fighter jets damaging US drone over Syria

US criticizes Russia over fighter jets damaging US drone over Syria

One of the Russian flares struck MQ-9 drone, 'severely damaging its propeller,' says US Air Force in statement

By Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON (AA) – A newly released video shows what the US Air Force calls Russian fighter jets engaging in "unprofessional" behavior while interacting with an American drone in Syria, damaging an MQ-9 drone on a mission against the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS.

In the Sunday incident, Russian fighter aircraft flew dangerously close to the drone, harassing it and deploying flares from a position directly overhead, with only a few meters of separation between aircraft, according to the US Air Force description of the video, released late Monday.

"One of the Russian flares struck the U.S. MQ-9, severely damaging its propeller. Fortunately, the MQ-9 crew was able to maintain flight and safely recover the aircraft to its home base," said Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the top US Air Force commander in the region, in a statement.

"The Russian fighter’s blatant disregard for flight safety detracts from our mission to ensure the enduring defeat of (Daesh) ISIS," the statement said, calling on Russian forces in Syria to "put an immediate end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior.”

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