US & Russian Jets In Dangerous Intercept Incident Over Syria

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Feb 16, 2022 - 04:45 PM

At a moment there's still war-footing rhetoric going on between the US and Russia over Ukraine (or rather, with most of it coming from the White House), late Tuesday there was a close-call incident between Russian and American fighter jets over Syria. 

CNN revealed based on defense officials that US planes warned off Russian fighters when they flew near US bases in Syria. According to the report, "US fighter jets and other coalition aircraft escorted three Russian aircraft in eastern Syria on Tuesday when the Russians flew into coalition-restricted airspace, according to two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident."

Illustrative: via Russian MoD/TASS

Russia still acknowledges the airspace in question as officially belonging to Syrian sovereignty, though US troops on the ground currently control this northeast region while backing proxies in the Kurdish-led SDF.

CNN described the details further as involving "A Russian cargo aircraft, accompanied by two Tu-22 Backfire bombers flew across Iraq into the so-called Eastern Syria Security Area without giving sufficient advance notification to the US-run coalition that they were moving through the area." Typically each side is warned in advanced of such flights via a military-to-military deconfliction line, which the US and Russia semi-regularly use to avoid inadvertent conflict over Syria, particularly in places like Idlib, where US special forces recently raided the hideout of the head of ISIS.

In Tuesday's incident, the US F-16s were said to have briefly escorted the Russian jets away from the area. CNN noted further that "While the incident was not considered threatening, the Russians repeated the action about six hours later when another of their cargo aircraft and a Russian military jet few through the same area."

From both Damascus and Moscow's perspectives, Russia's military has been formally invited by the Syrian government to operate there, but not the United States. On Wednesday, in a highly symbolic gesture and likely message aimed at Washington, President Bashar al-Assad and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu - who traveled to Syria to inspect Russian naval exercises - greeted and embraced each other...

For years, Russian and US convoys on the ground have engaged in tense interactions, sometimes blocking the other's movements. It's widely acknowledged, however, that the potential for an aerial engagement over Syria between the two superpowers presents a much greater danger that could spark war. 

At the moment, both the US and Russia are engaged in large military exercises in waters near the Middle East, with Russia focusing itself on naval movements in the Mediterranean.