US calls on Russia to cease ‘irresponsible behaviour’ in Syria after drone hit with flare

SYDNEY, July 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday called on Russia to abide by the laws of the sky and cease “irresponsible behaviour” when asked about Russian attacks on U.S. drones in Syria.

The U.S. military said a MQ-9 drone over Syria was “severely” damaged when it was hit with a flare from a Russian fighter jet earlier this week, the latest in a series of close interactions between Russian and U.S. military aircraft in the region.

“We call upon the Russian leadership to make sure that they issue guidance to their troops to abide by the laws of the sky and make sure that they cease this irresponsible behaviour,” Austin said, when asked about the incident in a news conference in Brisbane, Australia.

Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken are in Australia for the annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) dialogue.

“We’ll continue to engage using the established channels to convey our concern and we’ll continue to engage senior leadership as appropriate. But, again, we will continue to operate, as we have always operated in the airspaces, and we will protect our interests and our resources,” said Austin.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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