On July 5, 2023, the US Air Force announced that three of its drones deployed in Syria against Islamic State forces were harassed by Russian fighter jets.
American presence in Syria
Several hundred American soldiers are currently in Syria. Their presence comes as part of a coalition committed against the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group who maintain a presence in the region. The American troops support in particular the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (movement with a Kurdish majority) which, in 2019, made it possible to drive out the IS from the last territories it controlled.
The missions carried out by the American army in Syria include an air presence for reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence (ISR) missions and strikes against the forces of the terrorist organization as well as several other groups and militias present in the region. which contribute to its instability. In March 2023, for example, US troops carried out retaliatory strikes after the deadly attack by an Iranian-designed drone on a coalition base in eastern Syria. The strike was carried out by militias backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. (read our article on the subject). Another incident took place when a Russian anti-aircraft missile grazed an American MQ-9 Reaper in Syria in May 2023 (read our article on the subject)
MQ-9 drones harassed by Russian fighters
It is in this context that a new incident involving American drones recently took place in Syria. According to the United States Air Force (USAF or US Air Force), three of its MQ-9 drones were harassed by Russian fighters. The event is not to be remembered the collision between a Russian Su-27 and an MQ-9 Reaper in the Black Sea last March. (read our article on the subject).
Three in number, and “Contrary to established standards and protocols, Russian fighters dropped numerous parachute flares in front of the drones, forcing our planes to perform evasive maneuvers,” says the USAF. Following this first maneuver “A Russian pilot positioned his plane in front of an MQ-9 and activated the afterburner, thus reducing the operator’s ability to use the drone in complete safety”; two obvious acts of provocation towards American drones.
The US Air Force was keen to urge Russian forces in Syria to cease such reckless behavior and “adhere to the standards of behavior expected of a professional air force so that we can once again focus on enduring defeat.” of ISIS” which, despite its loss of visibility and power, is still a problem in the Syrian space.