Moment Russian war jet fires at US aircraft as all-out conflict fears grow

Russia damages US drone in Syria

This is shocking moment a Russian jet fired a flare and hit a US drone flying over Syrian airspace.

The White House revealed the strike as Russia heightens its provocation of western powers.

This is the sixth reported incident in July and the second in a 24-hour period in which the US claims the Russians have flown perilously close to manned and unmanned American aircraft.

This raises the question of whether the US will respond and if so how.

The latest strike damaged the MQ-9 Reaper drone according to two US officials. The officials were not given the all clear to disclose this information but did so under the condition of anonymity.

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the US has “seen the reports, the early reports, of a second Russian fighter aircraft this week flying dangerously close to our drone” while on a mission to counter Islamic State militants in Syria.

However she didn’t provide any other details other than noting that Russia’s “close approach to and deployment of flares over US drones during a routine mission” breaches international norms.

Russian warplanes have targeted Reaper drones with flares in incidents over the last two days.

A drone’s propeller was damaged in a strike on Tuesday and the Russians hit another on Wednesday.

Washington was blamed by a senior Russian military leader for the most recent incident and said that American drones breached anti-conflict protocols in Syria on 10 occasions in the last 24 hours.

In a statement Rear Admiral Oleg Gurinov, the boss of Russian’s military Reconciliation Centre in Syria claimed that the US drone flew dangerously close to Russian aircraft on Wednesday.

According to Gurinov, the US drone was identified on the onboard systems of Russian Su-34s and Su-35s and this triggered an automatic firing of the flares.

He said: “The United States are continuing to disinform the public about unlawful flights of its drones in the Syrian air space that have failed to undergo deconflicting procedure while accusing the Russian side of dangerous maneuvering”.

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He claimed that the Russian pilots “showed a high degree of professionalism and took timely steps to avoid a collision with the drone”.

A senior US official claimed that commanders from both sides regularly exchanged angry threats using deconfliction phoneline designed to avoid unintended clashes in Syria.

Leading experts believe that Russia is conducting harassing missions in Syria to support Iran’s desire for the US to leave the war-riddled country.

Russia relies on Iranian support for its war in Ukraine.

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