Morgan Chalfant — Washington Free Beacon Oct 28, 2016
U.S. and Russian military jets reportedly had a close encounter in Syrian airspace several days ago.
AFP, citing U.S. officials, reported Friday morning that a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. jet in airspace over eastern Syria on Oct. 17, nearly two weeks prior.
A Russian jet escorting a larger spy aircraft flew into the vicinity of the U.S. warplane, moving to “inside half a mile” from the American plane, according to Air Force Lieutenant General Jeff Harrigian.
#BREAKING Russian, US jets had near miss over Syria: US officials
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 28, 2016
“I would attribute it to not having the necessary situational awareness given all those platforms operating together,” Harrigian further stated, according to AFP.
An unnamed defense official said that the Russian aircraft “was close enough you could feel the jet wash of the plane passing by.”
The U.S. and Russia have set up a line of communication to avoid clashes in airspace over Syria. In this incident, the American pilot reportedly attempted to communicate with the Russian warplane but was unsuccessful.
Harrigian also reported an increase in close encounters between American and Russian military jets in the region in the past six weeks. He said that Russian jets have intentionally flown close to U.S. warplanes about once every 10 days.
Tensions between the United States and Russia have been exacerbated over the situation in Syria in recent weeks, following a failed ceasefire deal and suspension of communications between the two countries.
Russian and Syrian jets have bombed civilians and U.S.-backed rebels in Aleppo, drawing ire from America. Moscow has threatened to shoot down coalition jets that target Bashar al-Assad’s forces with air strikes in Syria, after reports indicated that the Obama administration would consider targeting Syrian government forces with strikes.