Two U.S. F-22 fighter jets chased Russian Su-25 planes out of the deconfliction zone in Syria on Wednesday using flares.
Russian jets moved into the deconfliction zone east of the Euphrates River, but were quickly forced out by a pair of F-22 stealth fighters, which launched warning flares, a Pentagon official told The Washington Examiner on Thursday. The Su-25 jets reportedly crossed into the zone numerous times.
An official also told CNN that a Su-35 fighter jet was also involved.
The purpose of the deconfliction zone is to separate U.S. and Russian aircraft conducting operations over Syria.
Following the incident, officers from the U.S.-led coalition rang up their Russian counterparts through the deconfliction hotline, a line of communication that was recently reaffirmed in a joint meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam.
According to the statement, which came out of the meeting, both countries “agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both US and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS.”
Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said abiding by the deconfliction line is important to avoid clashes between U.S. and Russian forces, in a statement to CNN last week,
“The greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “As coalition leaders have repeatedly said, we’re here to fight ISIS — not the Russians or anyone else.”
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