The US Air Force is claiming a “near miss” in the skies of Syria last week, in which a Russian jet that was escorting a spy plane came within “half a mile” of a US warplane. The incident was at night and none of the planes had any lights on.
US Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeff Harrigian chalked the matter up to inferior Russian pilots, saying that it was because the pilot did not have “the necessary situational awareness” and simply didn’t see that there was a US warplane flying around in the area.
The US is eager to hype any such incidents as proof of Russia’s “unsafe and unprofessional behavior” in Syria, though a major factor in this is that the US dramatically curtailed information sharing with Russia in Syria after the last ceasefire failed.
Details on the incident are still minimal, but it was described as happening in “eastern Syria.” This is unusual because, while Russian warplanes tend to operate in that area, where al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front holds significant territory, the US generally does not, and US airstrikes are more or less exclusively in the northwest of the country.