Since Russia began its bomb campaign in Syria one week ago, Russian fighter jets have shadowed U.S. predator drones above Syria at least three times, according a pair of U.S. officials.
Fox News reported that the Russian jets flew "intercept tracks," according to one of the officials, thereby coming close enough to the predator drones to assert their presence. The Russian jets did not try to shoot the drones down.
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"The Russians flew very close but did not impede the drone flight," one official stated.
The incidents occurred over an area in Syria controlled by the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) as well as over the border between Syria and Turkey near Korbani and in the northwest region of Syria near Aleppo.
"The first time it happened, we thought the Russians got lucky. Then it happened two more times," one official said.
One of the officials also noted that it would have been "easy" for the Russian jets to spot the U.S. military’s MQ-1 Predator drone on radar.
The Pentagon said Wednesday that a U.S. aircraft had rerouted in order to avoid a Russian jet above Syria.
Russia began launching airstrikes in Syria last Wednesday, largely targeting areas that are not controlled by IS terrorists despite Moscow’s claim that it has bolstered military activity in Syria in order to help President Bashar al-Assad combat the terror group.
Instead, U.S. officials believe that Russia is targeting CIA-backed Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime with airstrikes in a challenge the Obama administration’s Syria policy.
Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) confirmed Monday that Russia violated Turkey’s airspace two times over the weekend, which NATO’s North Atlantic Council said posed "extreme danger." Secretary of State John Kerry described the U.S. as "very concerned" about the airspace invasions.
Despite repeated U.S. warnings, Russia has pressed on with its military intervention in Syria. Vladimir Putin’s government has reportedly been plotting with Iran for months on providing military aid to Assad, an ally of both countries.