A US F-22 fighter was preventing two Russian Su-25 strike aircraft from bombing an Islamic State (IS, former ISIS) base to the west of the Euphrates November 23, according to the ministry.
The ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov described the episode as yet another example of US aircraft attempts to prevent Russian forces from carrying out strikes against Islamic State.
“The F-22 launched decoy flares and used airbrakes while constantly maneuvering [near the Russian strike jets], imitating an air fight,”Konashenkov said. He added that the US jet ceased its dangerous maneuvers only after a Russian Su-35S fighter jet joined the two strike planes.
The major general went on to say that “most close-midair encounters between Russian and US jets in the area around the Euphrates River have been linked to the attempts of US aircraft to get in the way [of the Russian warplanes] striking against Islamic State terrorists.” He also said that the US military officials provided no explanation for the November 23 incident as well as other, similar encounters.
The statement came as a response to the Pentagon’s claims about “an increase in unsafe behavior” by Russian warplanes. “We saw anywhere from six to eight incidents daily in late November, where Russian or Syrian aircraft crossed into our airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River,” Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, the spokesman for US Air Force Central Command, told CNN earlier on Saturday.
Konashenkov said that any claims made by US military officials concerning the fact that there is “any part of the airspace in Syria that belongs to the US” are “puzzling.” Konashenkov also said that “Syria is a sovereign state and a UN member and that means that there… can be no US airspace ‘of its own.’ Unlike the Russian Air Force, the US-led coalition is operating in Syria without any legal basis,” he added.
US claims that its international coalition, formed without the permission of UN Security Council in August 2014, fights ISIL elements in Syria and Iraq, yet since then its fighters repeatedly have targeted Syria’s infrastructures and killed hundreds of Syrian civilians.