Moscow on Thursday accused the US military of trying to hinder a Russian patrol in Syria after Washington said US troops had been injured in a collision with a Russian vehicle.
Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, told his US counterpart in a phone call that Russia had warned the US-led international coalition in Syria about the movements of the Russian patrol, Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement.
Washington has said the incident violated safety protocols agreed with Moscow.
Videos of the confrontation that were shared on Twitter, apparently taken by bystanders and the Russians themselves, appear to show the Russian troop carriers and helicopters trying to box the US vehicles in and then force them from the area, near Dayrick.
Vehicles appear to bump each other, and at one point — possibly at the beginning of the confrontation — one of the helicopters hovers very low over the halted Americans, blasting them with prop wash.
The White House National Security Council said in a statement that a Russian vehicle struck a US mine-resistant ATV, “causing injuries to the vehicle’s crew.”
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said the US vehicles were a security patrol of the anti-ISIS coalition.
He said the patrol departed the area to de-escalate the situation.
“Unsafe and unprofessional actions like this represent a breach of de-confliction protocols, committed to by the United States and Russia in December 2019,” said Ullyot.
“The coalition and the United States do not seek escalation with any national military forces, but US forces always retain the inherent right and obligation to defend themselves from hostile acts.”
US and Russian troops frequently interact in Syria, but confrontations have been rare.
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