- Russian warplanes flew over a US military outpost in Syria 25 times in March, according to NBC News.
- The United States and Russia reached a 2019 deal intended to mutually distance themselves from their airbases in Syria.
- The escalation comes a week after Russian fighter jets clashed with a US drone over the Black Sea.
Russian fighter jets circled a US airbase in Syria dozens of times in March, potentially heightening tensions after a US drone was shot down following a confrontation with a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea last week.
According to a report by NBC News, Russian planes have flown over a US air base in Syria more than 25 times this month, violating a 2019 agreement between the US and Russia on the use of Syrian airspace. in areas where each country has military outposts.
Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, U.S. Central Command’s combined forces air component commander, told the outlet that flights increased during the month of March.
On March 14, two Russian Su-27 fighter jets approached, poured fuel, then cut off an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea, forcing the United States to shoot down the damaged drone.
In Syria, Grynkewich said Russian jets invading the American garrison outpost At Tanf created an “uncomfortable situation”.
“They routinely fly directly over our units, and I’ve defined directly over as about a mile, no more than a mile off either side, as we have forces there on the ground,” Grynkewich told NBC News. “So it’s an uncomfortable situation.”
In January, Russian forces surrounded the US air base 14 times, according to NBC News, and did not fly over the base at all in February.
“It just increases the risk of miscalculation, and given things like the MQ-9 incident in the Black Sea, that’s not the kind of behavior I would expect from an Air Force. professional,” added Grynkewich.
The Pentagon and US CENTCOM did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Both Russian and American troops have had a military presence in Syria since at least 2015. According to NBC News, the United States opened a deconfliction hotline with the Russians to ease tensions, and during calls with the United States- United, Russian military personnel said they didn’t recognize the US base or airspace.
“Over the past few months, the Russians have seemed to abandon this principle of the protocols,” Grynkewich added.