- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2015

U.S. and Russian fighter jets flew within just 10 or 20 miles of each other in the skies over Syria on Saturday, U.S. military officials confirmed.

Pentagon spokesman Col Steve Warren said that two combat aircraft flown by the U.S. and two flown by Russia “entered the same battle space” and were in visual contact with each other, the BBC reported.

The revelation has prompted the U.S. and Russia to hold new talks on air safety in the region. It will be the third round of talks between the two countries as they try to avoid a potential conflict in Syria. U.S. and Russian officials are expected to hold a video conference on Wednesday.

Despite the talks, the U.S. maintains that Russia’s military campaign in Syria is “wrongheaded.”

Ahead of the talks, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the talks were professional and constructive, but he added that the Americans “are not able at this time to associate ourselves more broadly with Russia’s approach in Syria because it is wrongheaded and strategically short-sighted,” the BBC reported.

The Russian defense ministry says it has “updated proposals on Syria for the U.S.” and is waiting for a third video conference.

Col. Warren also told reporters that Russian planes had repeatedly broken air patrols, coming close to American drones.

The news comes one week after it was revealed that Russian jets had buzzed U.S. predator drones over Syrian air space.

Russia’s defense ministry on Wednesday defended the encounter, saying its jets had to approach the U.S. aircraft to identify it.

Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said a Russian Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet providing air escort for assault groups in Syria had to approach a U.S. plane to establish visual contact with it and said the incident on Oct. 10 was not aimed at scaring off the U.S. aircraft, RT news reported.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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