US UK are now the “bad guys”?
The incident took place Wednesday in the vicinity of the Syrian town of Mayadin, when a pair of Su-25 close air support jets were escorting a humanitarian aid convoy, the Russian Defense Ministry said. A US F-22 stealth fighter came from across the Euphrates river and approached the aircraft, firing flare decoys in front of them.
A Su-35 fighter jet, which provided cover for the Russian planes, “rapidly approached” the F-22 from the rear and the US warplane left the area afterward, the ministry added.
The ministry stressed that the incident occurred above the western bank of the Euphrates River, dismissing media reports that the Russian planes were allegedly operating over the eastern bank.
Earlier, US military officials told media, that a F-22 fighter fired flares to warn Russian planes away from a “deconfliction line” in Syria. After the encounter, the Russian planes reportedly left the area.
“Two F-22s went too close to two Russian jets so we had to use the de-confliction channels,” a US Central Command (CENTCOM) told Sputnik on Thursday. “This is not something extraordinary… It happens sometimes several times a day.” The official has also confirmed that the militaries of the two countries have discussed the incident.
Moscow and Washington agreed on a flight safety memorandum in Syria in 2015 and established a hotline to prevent emergency situations. Using this early-warning system, the militaries of the two countries discuss the approximate locations and missions of their planes to avoid them being in the same airspace at the same time.
However, the two sides have repeatedly accused each other of disregarding the memorandum and being reluctant to use the tools at their disposal to prevent incidents. A similar incident between the Russian and US militaries was reported by Russia’s Defense Ministry last week. It said that a Russian Su-35 was forced to chase away a rogue US F-22 jet on November 23.
“The F-22 launched decoy flares and used airbrakes while constantly maneuvering [near the Russian strike jets], imitating an air fight,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said last Saturday in a statement, accusing the US military of attempts to disrupt the anti-terrorist operation and preventing Russian planes from bombing Islamic State terrorists.