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Syria: US sends F-22 stealth fighter jets to ward off Russian pilots' harassment

The Pentagon is upping the ante to deter the Kremlin's provocations in Syria as both Russia and Iran seek to take advantage of a smaller US force fighting ISIS.
In this handout image released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers (R), F-22 fighter jets and South Korean Air Force F-35 fighter jets (bottom) fly over South Korea Peninsula during a joint air drill on February 01, 2023 at an undisclosed location in South Korea.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has deployed advanced F-22 fighter jets to the Middle East in a bid to deter Russian military pilots' increasing harassment of American forces in Syria.

Stealth F-22 Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron based in Langley, Va., arrived at an airbase in the Levant region earlier this week from a deployment in Europe, defense officials said.

“The presence of the F-22 and the overmatching capabilities they possess provide the strongest of deterrents to escalation," a US Air Force spokesperson told Al-Monitor via email. "Their primary purpose is to contribute to the enduring defeat-ISIS mission and to demonstrate our resolve to defend coalition forces with overwhelming combat air power."

The commander of US Air Force units in the Middle East, Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, said the advanced fifth-generation fighters "will provide increased capability in the face of Russian unprofessional behavior in the air."

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