U.S. Reinforces Troops in Syria After Clashes With Russians

Russian military provocations against the small contingent of U.S. forces in Syria have escalated in recent weeks. This has led to exchanges of gunfire, and a clash between Russian and U.S. tactical vehicles in late August, where seven American soldiers were injured.

Video shown on Twitter clearly shows the Russian vehicle ramming into the U.S. vehicle as Russian Mi-8 and Mi-35 helicopters pass low overhead as intimidation.

The Pentagon stated that the Russians were in a “security zone” the Russians had previously agreed to stay out of. I was one of those who urged a stronger U.S. response to these Russian military provocations. The Pentagon is now doing just that.

According to the BBC, U.S. officials said six Bradley Fighting Vehicles and about 100 troops were being deployed to north-east Syria from Kuwait to reinforce the 500 troops currently there to help secure the area and its oil fields from Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

These added troops and tracked Bradleys should give the troops operating there valuable additional firepower to augment their more lightly armed Max Pro MRAP wheeled tactical vehicles.

A Pentagon spokesman was quoted by BBC as saying the move would “ensure the safety and security of Coalition forces,” adding that the U.S. would also deploy a “Sentinel radar” and increase “the frequency of US fighter patrols over US forces.”

In a move I criticized at the time – especially due to its abruptness, President Trump in October 2019 decided to withdraw 1,000 US troops that were supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance. The Russians back Syrian government forces fighting the Kurds.

The president’s intent was to fulfill his promise to end U.S. involvement in “forever wars” but many saw it as a strategic mistake and abandonment of strong U.S. allies. Thankfully, Trump later decided to keep a few hundred troops in the country to “protect the oil wells.”

This small contingent, however, appears too small and lightly armed to fulfill the mission in the face of growing Russian belligerence. I have argued that the mission is important, but the President should either strongly support the troops on the ground, or fully withdraw them.

It appears Trump has decided to reinforce the troops and send a message to Vladimir Putin at the same time. While the Pentagon spokesman announcing the deployment did not mention Russia by name, an unnamed U.S. official was quoted by the NBC News explicitly linking the U.S. reinforcements to Russian actions, saying:

“These actions and reinforcements are a clear signal to Russia to adhere to mutual de-confliction processes and for Russia and other parties to avoid unprofessional, unsafe and provocative actions in north-east Syria.”

Well done, and well said. Putin – take note.

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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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3 months ago

Another impossible situation. No matter what Trump does, it has very real potential downsides. I would guess he’s getting counsel that is all over the map. I think that in these situations, you either go big, or go home. It is obvious which way the Russians want it to go.

Last edited 3 months ago by BajaRon
James Green
3 months ago
Reply to  BajaRon

The reason why the action didn’t go well in Kora after the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel is because Truman countermanded General McArthur’s judgement. President Truman wanted to just contain the action to only force the North Koreans back across the DMZ. THEN CHINA DECIDED TO SLIP THEIR TROOPS INTO THE FREY hoping we wouldn’t notice because the Orientals seem to look alike,

john vieira
3 months ago
Reply to  James Green

This is not the same situation…General McArthur also wanted to teach the Chinese a lesson…but the politicians deferred….Syria is a sovereign country and the Russians are there at their bequest…the US troops are not…and should never have gotten involved…The SAR and the Russians incidentally are more responsible for the demise of ISIS/ISIL than the US, especially after Barrack and John were no longer in a position to “aid, arm and abet these “moderate” terrorists when Trump took office…

3 months ago

We need to stop fighting Hillary and Obozo’s war in Syria.

john vieira
3 months ago
Reply to  Rivahmitch

It was the “brotherhood’s” war…and apparently it got going way back with G. W….interesting to note here that the Warren Act was rescinded on his watch…and that the likes of Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer, Schiff et al ALL voted “aye” on that.

Mary Purington
Mary Purington
3 months ago

Let’s get the hell out of that sh—hole. Let Russians have it I could care less. Remember America First!!🇺🇸🇺🇸

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