A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone sits in a hanger at Amari Air Base


  • Russian military alleged US MQ-9 Reaper drone flew dangerously close to Russian fighter jets in Syria
  • US accused Russia of severely damaging its MQ-9 Reaper drone in a separate incident
  • Tensions escalate as both sides exchange accusations over violating deconfliction protocols in Syria

In response to the United States' accusation of causing substantial damage to its MQ-9 Reaper drone, the Russian military claimed that on July 26, a US MQ-9 Reaper drone conducted a dangerously close flyby to a pair of Russian Su-34 and Su-35 fighter jets in Syria.

At 07:34, in the Al-Bab area, a US-made MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the US-led international coalition flew "dangerously close" to a pair of Russian Aerospace Forces' Su-35 and Su-34 aircraft at an altitude of 20,341 feet, Rear Admiral Oleg Gurinov, the deputy head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, said, according to RT.

According to Gurinov's claim, in response to the MQ-9 Reaper locking its weapons on the Russian fighters, the Russian aircraft's radars detected the threat, prompting an automatic release of decoy flares as a defensive measure.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre provided a contrasting account of the event, asserting that the Russian aircraft were "flying dangerously close to our drone." She clarified that the drone was involved in a mission against Islamic extremists at the time of the incident.

As per the statement from the Russian military official, the pilots of the Russian Federation recorded the targeting of their weapons guidance systems, which subsequently triggered the automatic activation of airborne defense systems. This, in turn, led to the release of false thermal targets as a countermeasure against the perceived threat.

Gurinov highlighted that the Reaper drone was being flown recklessly, and a potential collision was narrowly averted thanks to the "high level of professionalism" demonstrated by the Russian pilots. Their skillful handling of the situation prevented any unfortunate incident despite the dangerous proximity of the drone to their aircraft.

Furthermore, on July 25, the Russian military reported that the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated by the US-led coalition had violated the deconfliction protocols over Syria a total of 12 times in a single day.

"On the part of the so-called international anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States, 12 cases of violation of the deconfliction protocols of Dec. 9, 2019, related to UAV flights not coordinated with the Russian side, were recorded per day," Rear Admiral Oleg Gurinov said.

According to the statement, there were 12 instances of airspace violations within the airspace above the Al-Tanf region. This area serves as a crucial passage for international air routes, making such violations a matter of concern for the safe and smooth operation of air traffic in the region.

Meanwhile, the US Air Force recently released captivating footage that documents an extraordinary encounter between a Russian Su-35 fighter jet and an American Reaper drone.

In recent weeks, Syria has experienced a surge in tensions between the Russian and US military forces. Both sides have been exchanging accusations of violating deconfliction protocols, intensifying the confrontation in the region. The situation remains highly sensitive and continues to draw international attention as concerns rise over the potential implications of these escalating tensions.