UPDATE (12:00 CEST 27.08.2020): The White House National Security Council (NSC) confirmed in a statement that a Russian vehicle struck a US MRAP “causing injuries to the vehicle’s crew.”
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot claimed that US forces were a security patrol of the anti-ISIS coalition and accused Russia of breaking de-confliction protocols.
“Unsafe and unprofessional actions like this represent a breach of de-confliction protocols, committed to by the United States and Russia in December 2019,” Ullyot said.
“The coalition and the United States do not seek escalation with any national military forces, but U.S. forces always retain the inherent right and obligation to defend themselves from hostile acts.”
This version contradicts the statement by the Russian Defense Ministry that said that the US military was trying to block a Russian patrol in the area. The Russian side informed the US-led coalition in advance that its military police column will pass through.
“In spite of this, in breach of the existing agreements the U.S. troops attempted to block the Russian patrol” it said. The Defense Ministry added that Russian forces took “necessary measures” to end the incident and carry on their mission.
U.S. service members were lightly injured (mild concussion-like symptoms) during a recent standoff with Russian forces in northeastern Syria, U.S. officials told Reuters on August 26.
According to one of the officials, the service members sustained “mild injures” as a result of a collision with Russian forces. The official said there was no fire exchange during the standoff, which took place earlier this week.
According to Politico, the number of ‘injured’ US troops is four.
Russian sources shared several videos of the incident. One of the videos shows Russian and U.S. armored vehicles chasing each other in al-Hasakah countryside. A second video shows a Russian helicopter harassing U.S. troops that were trying to block a Russian patrol in the region.
Cat and mouse play Hasaka. This time known who mouse pic.twitter.com/zdQMcjb51n
— ZOKA (@200_zoka) August 26, 2020
Americans and Russians had joint Patrol in Malikyah CS ?? pic.twitter.com/WMZQovzit8
— ZOKA (@200_zoka) August 25, 2020
The Ministry of Defense of Russia and the U.S. Department of Defense have not released an official statement on the incident, thus far.
Several similar incidents involving Russian and U.S. troops took place in Syria’s northeastern region over the last few months. Nevertheless, this is the first time injures were reported.
The incident was likely the result of U.S. forces’ repeated attempts to restrict the movement of the Russian Military Police in northeastern Syria. These attempts are jeopardizing stability in the region.
A few hours later, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley made a phone call to Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, the Pentagon said. The US military did not provide details regarding the agenda of the phone call, but it is likely that the sides discussed the recent incident in northeastern Syria.
Forces of the United States and Russia regularly find themselves engaged in various small-scale incidents in the area as both sides seek to block operations of each other there. After the first deployment of the Russian Military Police in Syria’s northeast, forces of the US-led coalition immediately started trying to block the movement of Russian patrols near al-Hasakah. Later, the Russian Military Police and the Syrian Army, with support of pro-government locals, joined this standoff by blocking the movement of US military convoys.
The recent developments demonstrate that these actions may easily lead to a further escalation at any moment.