On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported an "Incident" had taken place involving a USAF F-22 over Syria which according to the Russians "actively prevented the Russian pair of Su-25 attack aircraft from carrying out a combat mission to destroy the Daesh stronghold in the suburbs of the city of Mayadin in the airspace over the western bank of the Euphrates River on November 23" with the The F-22 firing off heat flares and released brake shields with "permanent maneuvering, imitating an air battle" to which we said that in the apparent eagerness by the US to re-engage Russia, it is likely that more such near-incidents will take place.
Sure enough, on Thursday morning, a Pentagon official confirmed that a pair of U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters fired flares to chase two Russian Su-25 fighter jets out of restricted airspace over Syria on Wednesday.
- U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS U.S. F-22 JETS FIRED WARNING FLARES ON WEDNESDAY AFTER RUSSIAN JETS ENTERED AGREED UPON "DECONFLICTION ZONE" OVER SYRIA
As the Washington Examiner adds, the aerial encounter occurred when the Russian jets strayed into airspace east of the Euphrates River, putting them on the wrong side of a "deconfliction zone" established between Moscow and Washington to avoid confrontation in the skies over Syria.
"Two F-22 went too close to two Russian jets so we had to use the de-confliction channels," the official stated on Thursday. "This is not something extraordinary… It happens sometimes several times a day."
The Russian jets immediately left the area after the intercept and warning flares from the F-22s, an official confirmed to the Washington Examiner. Meanwhile, the Pentagon could not provide an account of how many or how often Russian violations of the deconfliction zone occur.
So far, neither Russian, nor US military officials commented on the issue, although the fact that there have been two near-combat incidents in the span of a week, virtually assures that it is only a matter of time before the "worst case" scenario becomes reality, and a dogfight between US and Russian fighter planes ends in tragedy.