Four U.S. officials told NBC News that the Russian military is jamming U.S. military drones flying over Syria in an effort to disrupt the U.S.’ ability to retaliate against chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta.
According to the officials, the Russians started jamming smaller U.S. drones several weeks ago after a series of suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians in rebel-held eastern Ghouta. By jamming the GPS systems of drones operating in the area the Russians were showing concern that the U.S. would attack their positions, explained the officials.
The Defense Department will not say whether the jamming is causing drones to crash, citing operational security. "The U.S. military maintains sufficient countermeasures and protections to ensure the safety of our manned and unmanned aircraft, our forces and the missions they support," said Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Tuesday there was no threat of the standoff in Syriaresulting in a military clash between Russia and the United States, TASS news agency reported.
Bogdanov was quoted as saying by the agency that there were "working contacts" between Russia and U.S. officials over Syria, and that he believed common sense would prevail.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said on Tuesday that the position of the United States and other countries on the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria is not constructive.
U.S. President Donald Trump promised to respond to the suspected chemical weapons attack which killed at least 60 people late on Saturday.
The Russian military has denied the attack took place.
Peskov also said that Russia has not given up on diplomatic efforts regarding Syria.