A US fighter jet operating in Syrian airspace opened-fire on a Russian-made tank in an act of “self-defense” said the Pentagon Tuesday, signaling a further escalation of tensions in the region as the seven-year long civil war continues to engulf the country.
According to Business Insider, US officials confirmed the incident this week, saying the Air Force jet destroyed a Russian T-72 tank near Al Tabiyeh, Syria; killing three crew members.
The nationalities of the fatalities remains unclear.
“The tank had been maneuvering with coordinated indirect fire on a defensive position occupied by Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisers,” said US Marine Corps Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway.
“The position was within effective range of the hostile weapons systems,” he added.
JUST IN: US jet destroys Russian T-72 battle tank in E Syria in 'self-defense' Saturday after 'pro-regime forces' fired on US special ops and allied Syrian fighters near same location of last week's attack, officials say. No US or allied casualties. 3 inside tank killed.
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) February 13, 2018
Despite joint pledges to work together to destroy ISIS and other terror networks, Russia and the United States find themselves on opposite sides of the ongoing conflict; with US forces equipping Syrian rebels and Russian forces supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The escalation of violence comes as Israel and Iran face-off inside Syrian airspace, with Assad’s forces shooting down an Israeli F16 fighter jet using equipment supplied by Tehran.
COLD WAR 2: Russian Jets, US Fighters FACE OFF Over Syria
Two US fighter jets scrambled over Syrian airspace on Thursday, chasing down a pair of Russian attack aircraft after Putin’s Air Force violated an international agreement and entered US-controlled territory.
During the altercation, the American fighters fired “flares” towards the intruding jets, in a gesture known as “head butting,” a defensive maneuver to alert enemy aircraft of your presence and willingness to engage.
“U.S. military officials raised concerns about the incident through an established hotline established in the past two years between American and Russian air forces,” reports Fox News. “In recent months, Russian jets have increasingly flown in restricted areas in eastern Syria, violating long established agreements with the U.S.-led coalition.”
The United States and Russia find themselves on opposite sides of the nearly seven-year long civil war that has ravaged Syria and the Middle East, with Washington backing Syrian-rebels and Moscow supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
While the two countries support different factions, they have pledged mutual cooperation to help defeat ISIS and other terror organizations operating in the region.
COLD WAR: Russian Fighter Jet Flies WITHIN 5 FEET of US Plane Over Black Sea
A Russian fighter jet raised alarm bells throughout the Pentagon when it came within five feet of a United States Navy plane in international airspace over the Black Sea; forcing the US aircraft to prematurely end its mission and return to base.
Pentagon officials confirmed the incident on Monday, saying the Russian military performed an “unsafe intercept” of a US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane operating in eastern Europe and western Asia.
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the SU-27’s jet wash,” said Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze.
“The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents on and Over the High Seas (INCSEA),” she added. “Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.”
The incident is the latest example of “unsafe intercepts” between Russian aircraft and NATO forces operating in the area.
Russia, the United States, NATO, and other European militaries operate in close proximity surrounding the Black Sea, particularly since Russia expanded its forces in the region four years ago during its invasion of Crimea.
h/t The Hill