WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A spokesperson for the Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) told Sputnik on Friday that the US will continue to deconflict with Russia in Syria after the incident between US F-22 fighter jets and Russian Su-25 attack aircraft.
“We would like to emphasize that we actively deconflict the airspace in Syria with the Russians to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS (Daesh) in the region,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to work with our SDF partners, just as we will continue to deconflict with the Russians for future Coalition strikes against ISIS targets in Syria.”
The Pentagon says a collision was narrowly averted on Wednesday while two US F-22s were chasing off two Russian Su-25s that entered coalition-controlled airspace on the eastern side of the Euphrates River, near Al Bukamal, Syria.
Russia's Defense Ministry has denied that a collision nearly took place, saying instead that a US fighter jet interfered with Russian aircraft that were carrying out a humanitarian mission on the western side of the Euphrates near the Syrian town of Mayadin.
"On December 13, a pair of Su-25 attack aircraft escorted a humanitarian convoy near Mayadin [the western bank of the Euphrates River] at an altitude of 3,300 meters. They were approached by a US F-22 fighter jet on the east side of the river. By firing off decoy flares, the F-22 interfered with the flight of a pair of Russian Su-25s," the ministry's statement read. "A Russian Su-35 fighter jet, performing an air cover mission at an altitude of 10,000 meters, swiftly approached the F-22 from the rear, forcing the American aircraft to leave the area."
Russian forces are operating in Syria at the request of the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad. The US-led coalition of more than 70 members is conducting military operations against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The coalition's strikes in Iraq are conducted in cooperation with Iraqi officials, but those in Syria are not authorized by Assad's government or the UN Security Council.