U.S. Troops Sustain Concussions
An incident on Tuesday, provoked by Russian forces resulted in a collision with a U.S. military armored vehicle in Syria. Reporting from Politico indicates that four U.S. military members sustained concussion
Around 10:00 (EET), a U.S. patrol of two armored vehicles identified a Russian armored patrol. The U.S. patrol then proceeded to intercept the vehicles, which were deep in Kurdish-controlled territory. The area
where the incident occurred, Southwest of Al-Malikiyah, is known for hosting Syrian Democratic Council meetings.
The Russian patrol consisted of both ground and air support, according to video footage of the incident. While the U.S. vehicles attempted to intercept the the Russian convoy, a Russian armored vehicle appeared to cross into the path of a U.S. patrol vehicle, resulting in a collision.
In response to the incident, White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Ullyot issued a statement, saying that the U.S. focused on deescalating the situation and left the area. At this time, Russia has not offered any comment on the issue.
Encounters between Russian and U.S. forces in Syria occur frequently. The incidents often lead to harmless standoffs, such as attempts to block passing patrols or convoys, though such actions violate agreements between the two countries not to engage with one another.
Increased pressure by Russia comes amid American attempts to withdraw from Syria and also as U.S. forces pull further back into Kurdish held territory amid Turkish advancements. Along with their allies loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, Russian forces have shown they are more than willing to apply constant pressure to American troops and Kurdish fighters.
This pressure includes increased confrontations as the Russians probe further into Syrian areas where they are not supposed to go, including pushing deeper into Kurdish territory like Al-Malikiyah. This latest
incident is the furthest a Russian patrol has gone into Kurdish held territory to date.
The strategic area of northern Syria is a catalyst in the rising tension building between Russian forces, including Russian paramilitary forces from Wagner Group, and U.S. forces.
Spanning January to February of this year, Neil Hauer, a Middle East Institute contributor, compiled a list of such events that provide a snapshot of what has been occurring; namely, six incidents involving U.S. forces either being probed or antagonized by Russian elements.
One example took place on February 13. A firefight between pro-Syrian government entities and U.S. forces near Qamishli, culminated in one person’s death, in which Russian forces responded to mediate.
Perhaps the most significant event since the U.S. presence in Syria occurred a year prior, when U.S. military forces engaged Russian contractors from Wagner Group, resulting in the death of many Russian mercenaries.
Russian forces have every intention to remain in Syria and want to deter U.S. goals in the region. With each minor confrontation, fears of a more costly interaction between U.S. and Russian troops grow.
As Syrian forces continue to defeat the remaining pockets of rebel opposition in the south of the country, access to resources opens up and attention on retaking the North increases. If the rebel resistance is
crushed in the South, Russia can then dedicate its full attention to try to squeeze the remaining U.S. forces out of the country.
If successful, Russia could also rotate military troops and contractors all over Syria, improving its combat readiness, and giving real-world experience to their forces, preparing them for future conflicts. As the U.S. military gradually withdraws from Syria, it needs to consider the high cost of leaving the region and letting the Russians fill the vacuum.
Additionally, Russia views each interaction in terms of power, control, and dominance. Moreover, they push the envelope and test the limits of resolve at every opportunity. This is never more the case than in their interactions with the U.S. and the situation in Syria is no different. They very much desire to maintain at least the veneer of being a superpower and find places like Syria, where they can be a regional power broker, as an opportunity to exert their influence.