US officials have reported that Russia continued harassment of US forces in Syria, with the latest incident involving Russian military aircraft engaging in an unsafe and unprofessional manner with a US aircraft.
On July 16, at 11:45 am Eastern Standard Time, Russian military aircraft engaged a US aircraft operating in Syria in a “highly unsafe and unprofessional manner”. The incident involved a US MC-12 aircraft, which was conducting operations in support of the Coalition’s Defeat ISIS mission, reported the US officials.
Reports indicate that a Russian Su-35 aircraft aggressively approached the US MC-12, violating established norms and protocols. As a result, the MC-12 was forced to navigate through the wake turbulence of the Russian aircraft, compromising the crew’s ability to safely operate the aircraft. The lives of the four crew members onboard were put at risk due to these actions.
“These actions against a manned aircraft represent a new level of unsafe and unprofessional actions by Russian aircraft operating in Syria,” said Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the top USAF commander in the Middle East.
In response to this incident, Lt. Gen. Grynkewich urged Russian forces operating in Syria to immediately cease such “reckless and threatening behavior”. He also emphasized the importance of adhering to the expected standards of behavior that befit a professional military force.
In a troubling trend, this recent incident signifies the fourth occurrence this month of Russian jets persistently harassing US forces. The previous three incidents took place over three consecutive days, spanning from July 5 to July 7. During this period, Russian fighter jets repeatedly engaged in hostile actions against United States Air Force (USAF) drones operating within Syrian airspace.