US troops injured in collision with Russian patrol in Syria

US official accuses Russia of breaching de-confliction pact

US forces patrol the area of the town of Tal Tamr, in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province, on August 17, 2020. The US-led coalition in Syria said a patrol had come under attack and engaged in a firefight near the pro-government checkpoint in the country's northeast. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier reported that two Syrian soldiers were killed in a coalition airstrike near the city of Qamishli.
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US officials on Wednesday confirmed that American troops in Syria were injured in an altercation with a Russian military patrol.

National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said that on Tuesday morning in Derik, in the north-east Hasakah region, US anti-ISIS coalition troops encountered a Russian military patrol.

Mr Ullyot said a Russian vehicle struck a US military vehicle, injuring its crew.

Politico  earlier reported that four US troops were injured and suffered mild concussion after the incident.

A video of the skirmish circulated on social media early Wednesday:

Mr Ullyot said the coalition patrol left the area to try to ease the situation, but warned Russia that such acts are a breach of protocols to avoid conflict.

“Unsafe and unprofessional actions like this represent a breach of de-confliction protocols, committed to by the United States and Russia in December 2019,” he said.

“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."

CNN quoted US officials who said the altercation was deliberate on part of Russia.

US-Russian skirmishes have increased in frequency in the past year since American President Donald Trump announced in December his intent to pull US troops from Syria.

Fewer than 1,000 US troops remain in the war-torn country and no time has been given for their departure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Mr Trump’s initial decision to withdraw from Syria, calling it “correct”.

Moscow has worked on boosting its influence in north-east Syria, which is where most of the US troops are based.