Crowded skies over Syria: Pentagon says US, Russian jets entered same battlespace

Mike Barrett, former Defense Department intelligence officer, reacts to op-ed in The New York Times


U.S. and Russian jets flew within a close enough range for pilots to see and identify each other over Syria, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said Tuesday.

The jets flew within miles of each other on Saturday, according to U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren. He described the need for the U.S. and Russia to sit down and discuss safety protocols for such incidents.

Col. Warren said all pilots involved acted appropriately. He described it as two sets of aircraft that "entered the same battlespace."

The U.S. military said Monday its cargo planes dropped small arms ammunition to Arab groups fighting the Islamic State group in northern Syria. Col. Warren added that the airdrop was conducted Sunday by Air Force C-17 cargo planes.

He did not identify the Arab groups that received the supplies but said their leaders had been vetted and have been fighting to remove ISIS from northern Syria.

The airdrop is in line with a revamped U.S. approach in Syria. The Obama administration announced last week that instead of trying to build a new Syrian rebel force, it will provide equipment, including ammunition, to existing Syria rebel groups who share the U.S. goal of defeating ISIS.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.