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Moscow Denies Russian Jets Intercepted By US F-22s in Syria

© Sputnik / Dmitry Vinogradov / Go to the mediabankRussian Su-25 close air support aircraft taking off from the Hmeymim airbase in Syria.
Russian Su-25 close air support aircraft taking off from the Hmeymim airbase in Syria. - Sputnik International
The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement Thursday denying reports of an alleged "intercept" of Russian Su-25s by US F-22 fighter jets in Syria.

"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."

The incident took place in Syrian airspace east of the Euphrates River.

"Two F-22 went too close to two Russian jets so we had to use the de-confliction channels," a CENTCOM official told Sputnik on Thursday. "This is not something extraordinary… It happens sometimes several times a day."

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A US official previously indicated that F-22s fired warning flares to chase Russian Su-25s away from the airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry says the US jets attempted to interfere in a Russian mission to provide air cover for a humanitarian aid convoy.

Per Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon, "one Su-25 flew close enough to an F-22A that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision."

"During the incident, a Russian Su-35 also flew across the river and was shadowed closely by one of the F-22As," Pahon added.

Though a verbal agreement last month indicated "that the Russians would remain west of the Euphrates River," according to Pahon, Russian jets have flown into coalition airspace in Syria "on the east side of the river six to eight times per day."

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