US: Russian aircraft deployed flares damaging MQ-9 drone during defeat-ISIS mission

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The US Air Forces Central (AFCENT) said on Tuesday that a Russian military aircraft deployed flares, damaging a US MQ-9 drone while conducting a defeat-ISIS mission in Syria on July 23.

“On 23 July, 2023 at 12:23 a.m. (EST) [a] Russian fighter aircraft flew dangerously close to a US MQ-9 drone on a defeat-ISIS mission, harassing the MQ-9 and deploying flares from a position directly overhead, with only a few meters of separation between aircraft,” AFCENT said in a statement.

One of the flares hit the drone, “severely damaging its propeller,” the statement said, adding that the drone’s crew was able to maintain the flight and safely recovered it to its home base.

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“The Russian fighter’s blatant disregard for flight safety detracts from our mission to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. We call upon the Russian forces in Syria to put an immediate end to this reckless, unprovoked, and unprofessional behavior,” AFCENT added.

Last month, a US military official told Al Arabiya English that Russia’s military forces in Syria have stopped adhering to agreed-upon deconfliction protocols with American and Coalition troops.

Earlier this year, a top US military general said the United States saw “unsafe and unprofessional air activity” from the Russians in Syria.

And in March, Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the US general responsible for air operations in the Middle East, said Russian jets violated the airspace over a US military base around 25 times.

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