Russian Troops Injure U.S. Forces in Latest Clash in Syria – U.S. Needs to Respond

Spc. DeAndre Pierce via Wikimedia Commons

In the latest, and most serious, example of Russian military provocation against U.S. forces in eastern Syria, on Tuesday a Russian military police vehicle sideswiped a U.S. military MRAP vehicle, injuring four Americans. Video shows two Russian helicopters also aggressively flew overhead – one as close as 20 meters (70 feet) from the U.S. vehicles.

U.S. troops are usually accompanied by members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting terrorists from the Islamic State (IS)Four US soldiers suffered concussions, according to the Military Times (MT). The violent confrontation occurred deep inside the Eastern Syria Deconfliction Zone, where Russian troops should not be operating.

These serious military incidents are unacceptable. The U.S. needs to push back.

Of course, the Russian Defense Ministry blamed the U.S. troops for the incident. “In violation of the existing agreements, the U.S. troops attempted to block the Russian patrol,” the ministry said in a statement reported by MT. “In response to that, the Russian military police took the necessary measures to prevent an incident and to continue the fulfillment of their task.”

However, various videos posted online show the incident was deliberate and unprovoked, despite the spin to the contrary. Several hours later, the Pentagon denied the Russian allegations. Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman stated in a press release reported by Military Times that:

Russian forces breached our deconfliction arrangement in Syria and injured U.S. service members with their deliberately provocative and aggressive behavior. Our military deconflicts operations in time and space with Russian forces in Syria to protect the force and mitigate risk of unintended escalation.

We commend our personnel on the ground for de escalating this unfortunate encounter through professionalism and restraint, which are hallmarks of the U.S. military.

We have advised the Russians that their behavior was dangerous and unacceptable. We expect a return to routine and professional deconfliction in Syria and reserve the right to defend our forces vigorously whenever their safety is put at risk.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement reported by the MT that a Russian vehicle struck the American vehicle near Dayrick, in northeast Syria. He blamed the Russian military for “unsafe and unprofessional actions” that breached deconfliction protocols between the two countries.

Military Times added that:

Russia, which has waged a military campaign in Syria that helped President Bashar Assad reclaim control over most of the country following a devastating civil war, long has bristled at the presence of the U.S. troops deployed in the country to fight the Islamic State group and have called for their pullout.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is testing U.S. resolve and escalating tensions to prompt a U.S. withdrawal. The Trump administration and Pentagon should make it clear to Putin, that provocative and dangerous confrontations with U.S. forces are unacceptable, and that any further incidents will result in serious consequences.

The U.S. needs to push back on Russian bullying in Syria just as it pushes back on Chinese bullying in the South China Sea.

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Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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Allan Roberts
7 months ago

Are things about to change. Can you imagine what will happen if Biden becomes president. He will do what Bill Clinton did in ALL of the terrorists attacks on America while he was president. NOTHING. And as a results, the terrorists KNEW that they could escalate their actions since Democrats are cowards who refuse to defend our country.

Jason Kim
Jason Kim
7 months ago
Reply to  Allan Roberts

Exactly what Trump is doing now NOTHING!!!

Tammy Snyder
Tammy Snyder
7 months ago
Reply to  Jason Kim

You dont know what Trump is doing. Do you actually watch anything but the MSM?

Rivahmitch
Rivahmitch
7 months ago

Why are we still in Syria? The problem there, along with the “Islamic State Group” armed by the Obama/Clinton/Bidem Administration under using the noinsense about the “arab spring” was strictly a pretext to strengthen the Islamists. We’re there becaue of flawed policies which should have been abandoned when Trump first took office. Just in case anyone forgot, we lost lives, including an “ambassador” (actually a “head of mission”) Libya covering the covert transfer of weapons from there to the “freedom fighters” (actually islamists) in Syria.

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