U.S. troops were injured Tuesday in a collision with a Russian military vehicle in northeast Syria, the Trump administration confirmed Wednesday.
“At approximately 10 a.m. (Syria Time), Aug. 25, a routine Defeat-ISIS Coalition security patrol encountered a Russian military patrol near Dayrick, in northeast Syria,” National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“During this interaction, a Russian vehicle struck a Coalition Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) causing injuries to the vehicle’s crew,” he added.
A Pentagon spokesperson could not immediately answer a question from The Hill about the nature or number of injuries, but reports Wednesday said at least four U.S. troops suffered mild concussionlike injuries.
Politico first reported the injuries.
Video apparently showing the encounter had emerged on social media earlier Wednesday. In the video, a Russian vehicle is seen ramming into a U.S. vehicle and a Russian helicopter is seen flying low over U.S. forces.
The United States has about 500 troops in Syria, mostly in the northeast, where they are helping local forces fight remnants of ISIS.
President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE has repeatedly tried to withdraw from Syria but backtracked amid fierce bipartisan pushback. He has said the troops remain in Syria to protect oil.
It is not uncommon for U.S. and Russian forces to have encounters on the road in Syria, but Pentagon officials have previously described those interactions as largely professional even as the frequency appeared to increase in recent months. This interaction, however, was not professional.
The injuries in the latest incident underscore the risks of the two superpowers operating in close proximity Syria.
In Wednesday’s statement, Ullyot said the situation was de-escalated when the U.S.-led coalition patrol left the area.
“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 U.S. forces always retain the inherent right and obligation to defend themselves from hostile acts,” he added.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley spoke with his Russian counterpart Wednesday, Milley’s office said in a statement, but did not provide details of what was discussed “in accordance with past practice.”