QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Two US officials revealed on Wednesday that several US soldiers were injured in an accident with Russian forces.
The officials said in a statement that the injuries were not caused by shooting and were a result of a vehicle collision.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced, on Thursday, that the US attempt to prevent the passage of a Russian patrol in Syria violates existing bilateral agreements in this regard.
“In violation of existing agreements, the US military tried to prevent the Russian patrol,” the ministry said in its statement.
The Pentagon did not respond to a request to comment on the incident, and Russia has not issued any official comment on this incident yet, according to Reuters.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said the incident took place on August 25 near Derik, in the northeast of Syria.
“To de-escalate the situation, the Coalition patrol departed the area,” he 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,” he added.
The Chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, made a phone call to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Mark Milley, to discuss the incident that occurred between their forces in Syria.
Gerasimov pointed out that according to the current procedures, US-led Global Coalition leadership was notified in advance of the passage of a convoy of the Russian military police.
The Russian forces, in response, took necessary measures to prevent the accident and continue carrying out the mission,” according to him.
Knowledgeable sources said that according to an agreement between the two forces, the Russian forces would only use the border roads, without deploying on the main roads in Qamishli and Hasakah.
Global Coalition spokesman Myles Caggins had previously confirmed to North Press that there was coordination with Russian forces in the region to avoid collision, but he admitted that there were many complications.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Groshko said in February that the mechanisms for resolving the conflict with US forces are working and are very effective in Syria.
Groshko explained that there was a clear understanding about the operations that the two sides carry out in each region, and that the discussion is actually about coordination between them.
While interactions between American and Russian forces are not uncommon, the incident highlights the risks of troops from both countries operating in close proximity in northern Syria and the potential for a rapid escalation in tensions.
About 500 US soldiers remain in northern Syria after a sharp reduction in troops that were initially there to drive out Islamic State militants from all their strongholds in the country.
On Thursday, American forces began patrolling the region in which the accident occurred, with local sources telling North Press that the patrol headed towards the northern countryside of the city of Derik, reaching the villages of Kasan and Qasr al-Deeb before taking the road to the border region west of Derik, where Russian patrols usually launch.
(Reporting by Mohammed Khier Ahmed)