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Russian-U.S. Altercation in Syria Ratchets Up Military Tensions

Aug. 28, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Russian and U.S. militaries operating in Syria have become embroiled in a heated dispute over an incident in northeastern Syria in which four American soldiers were injured. According to the Russian account and social media postings, an American patrol attempted to block a Russian military police patrol in Malikiyah in the northeast corner of Hasakah province. Sputnik and Al Masdar published four videos originally posted on social media showing the Russian and U.S. vehicles in close proximity to each other at speed and two Russian helicopters circling low overhead, apparently trying to intimidate the Americans. “U.S. forces appear to be blocking a road and then attempt to block the path of the Russian patrol when they drive through the field,” said one of the Twitter posts reported by Sputnik. The collision in which the four Americans were injured then apparently occurs.

In the aftermath, the Russian Defense Ministry initially reported that Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov called Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Gerasimov “drew the U.S. side’s attention to the fact that the commanders of the International antiterrorist coalition were notified about the passage of the Russian military in accordance with the existing rules,” reported the Russian Defense Ministry, according to Sputnik. The ministry issued a statement the next day charging that it had followed all of the rules and protocols, including notification of the U.S. side of the route and timing of the Russian patrol, but that the U.S. vehicles tried to block the Russians anyway.

The U.S. side, first in a statement issued by National Security Council John Ullyot and then later yesterday by Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman accused the Russians of breaching the deconfliction protocol in effect between the two sides. “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.” As RT pointed out in its coverage yesterday, it is the Russian military which is present legally in Syria at the request of the Damascus government, whereas the American presence is illegal. Damascus did not attack the U.S., nor did it invite Washington to send troops.

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