In the airspace over Syria, a Russian fighter jet flew within a half mile of a larger American plane on Oct. 17, then failed to respond to radio transmissions questioning the move, the U.S. military said Friday.
Air Force Colonel John Dorrian said the incident was raised with Russian officers the next day on a special de-confliction channel and kept private to avoid turning it into a major incident, The Associated Press reported. Dorrian characterized the incident as being too close for comfort but not as posing any danger to the U.S. crew of the plane.
U.S. officials saw no ill intent in the Russian plane’s actions, noting that both planes were flying without lights on and that the Russian plane likely didn’t see the U.S. one.
According to NBC News, Commander of U.S. Air Force Central Command Lieutenant General Jeff Harrigian said Russian military planes intercept U.S. ones nearly every week, which means Russian planes fall in behind American ones in a way considered unsafe.
Harrigian said these intercepts are handled on the de-confliction channel, but the answers to why Russian planes are doing it are typically unsatisfying. “I don’t see them having an intent to target us,” he said, stressing that the U.S. is focused on ISIS, “and not trying to pursue anything against the Russians,” NBC News reported.
Tensions continue to be high in the Syria region as Americans and Russians attempt to help different sides in the conflict.
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