Russian fighter plane flew close to US fighter in Syria: Officials

October 29, 2016 4:03 am

A Russian Air Force Mig-31 (Photo by Reuters)

A Russian fighter plane has dangerously flown close to a US warplane over eastern , US defense officials say.
According to US Air Force Lieutenant General Jeff Harrigian, the “near miss” occurred late on October 17, when the Russian fighter that was escorting a larger plane maneuvered near the American jet.
The Russian jet came to “inside of half a mile” of the US jet, Harrigian said Friday, noting that such incidents could lead to serious mishaps.
“I would attribute it to not having the necessary situational awareness given all those (planes) operating together,” Harrigian said.
“It was close enough you could feel the jet wash of the plane passing by,” another official said, according to AFP.
Apparently, the American pilot tried to contact the Russian jet via an emergency radio channel, but the attempt was unsuccessful.
On the following day, US officers used a hotline to ask about the incident, and the Russians said “the pilot didn’t see” the American plane, the official said.
The hotline was set up with Russian counterparts last year to discuss the approximate locations and missions of planes out of fear for a mishap.
The number of similar incidents has increased during the past six weeks, Harrigian said, adding that the Americans and their Russian counterparts stay in touch over such issues.

Jeff Harrigian (file photo)

“We’ll make sure they know we are concerned about that and try to get an understanding of why they felt the need to do it,” Harrigian said.
In a similar incident in September, a Russian fighter jet came within 10 feet (3 meters) of a US spy aircraft over the Black Sea.
Russia has been engaged in an anti-terror campaign in war-stricken Syria since September 30, 2015, based on a request from the Damascus government.
US has also been conducting airstrikes in Syria to purportedly target terrorist groups like Daesh (ISIL) since 2014, but they openly fund and equip militant groups who are waging war against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The foreign-sponsored crisis in Syria, which began in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.
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