In yet another provocative maneuver by Russia, approximately two weeks ago a Russian fighter jet reportedly performed a “barrel roll” over a U.S. plane while flying over Syria.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, overseer of the U.S. air forces in the Syrian region, reported Wednesday in a video teleconference call from Baghdad that Russian officers have actually apologized for the incident.
The Russian fighter jet conducted the taunting performance over a U.S. KC-10 tanker aircraft in what was described as an “unprofessional intercept.”
Harrigian said after the U.S. coalition complained about the incident, the Russians have apologized and said the pilot was “acting on his own initiative” in performing the stunt.
“We had one incident where there was an intercept they ran that I would categorize as unprofessional, and we called them on it and expressed our concern… they came back, quite frankly, and apologized for that particular intercept,” Harrigian said.
He added, “We have found ways to appropriately de-conflict to allow us to continue our mission. I think that it’s important to highlight that the Russians are understanding of what we’re trying to do.”
Harrigian explained efforts are underway to avoid “strategic miscalculation” in Syria, as the US-led coalition and Russia are targeting different groups on the ground, which has led to “tighter airspace” between the different operations.
The U.S. and Russia have tried to make sure they are not targeting each other by mistake, although the U.S. military is reportedly not allowed to coordinate directly with the Russian military.
“I’m ever-cognizant of the need to avoid an action that could result in a strategic miscalculation,” Harrigian told reporters at the Pentagon. “We have had to increase the amount of de-confliction work we’re doing with the Russians given the tighter airspace,” he added.
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