Second Russian aircraft flew 'dangerously close' to US drone over Syria this week, White House says

Second Russian aircraft flew 'dangerously close' to US drone over Syria this week, White House says
This is the second time this week that a Russian aircraft has flown too close to a US drone over Syrian airspace.
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Russian jets have often targeted US aircraft or drone flying over Syria in recent months [Getty]

A second Russian aircraft flew "dangerously close" to a US drone over Syria this week, just days after another Russian jet damaged another US drone above the war-torn country, the White House said on Wednesday.

"We have seen the early reports of a second Russian fighter aircraft this week, flying dangerously close to our drone on a defeat ISIS mission," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in a press briefing.

"We remain focused on the mission to defeat ISIS as is evident by our recent strike against an ISIS leader in Syria this month," she added.

The US military said on Tuesday a Russian fighter jet hit a US drone with a flare on Sunday and "severely" damaged its propeller over Syria, in violation of established protocols and international norms.

US officials say that Russian jets have increased the pace of dangerous encounters with US military aircraft in recent months over Syria, where forces from both countries operate.

Russia intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2015, tipping the balance in regime leader Bashar Al-Assad's favour, having assisted him in gaining back control of much of the rebel-held areas of the country. Moscow has also since expanded its military facilities in the country with a permanent air base and also has a naval base.

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The US is leading a coalition against the Islamic State group and has carried out air strikes in Syria this year. Washington has in the last year stepped up raids and operations against suspected ISIS operatives in Syria.

A US-led campaign killed former IS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019 and has since targeted its surviving leaders, many of whom are thought to have planned attacks abroad.

Islamic State controlled one-third of Iraq and Syria at its peak in 2014. Though it was beaten back in both countries, its militants continue to wage insurgent attacks.