Damascus – On Wednesday, a Syrian man was killed and another wounded in a rare collision between a US military and a government supporter who tried to block a U.S. convoy on a drive to a village in northeast Syria, state media and activists said.
State-run media said the victim was a civilian. He was among the residents of a village east of the town of Kamili who had gathered at the army outpost, stoned the US Convoy and dropped a US flag from a car. Right now, American troops have fired live ammunition and smoke bombs at residents, the report said.
A US military spokesman says the coalition forces patrolling Kamishli encountered an outpost occupied by Syrian opposition forces. After coalition troops issued “one-on-one vigilance and de-escalation efforts,” Troll was subjected to small-arms attacks by unidentified individuals, coalition spokesman Miles Caggins said.
“In self-defense, coalition troops opened fire. The situation was ruined and an investigation is under way.”
Lt. Col. Carla Gleeson, who is traveling with the US Secretary of Defense in Brussels, says no American has been killed in the incident.
Videos of the encounter have surfaced on social media, showing that the US convoy was set on fire after being first stoned by unarmed civilians. In another video an American holds a flag and shouts to the soldiers: “What are you doing here? What are you doing in our country? What is your business here?”
With hundreds of US troops stationed in northeast Syria, they are still working with their local partners in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force to fight ISIS positions in the region. The United States is patrolling in northeast Syria, but it was not immediately clear why the caravan entered government-controlled territory.
The incident marks a rare confrontation between the US and Syrian army in populated areas where Russian forces are also deployed, supporting Assad’s troops and escalating tensions.
Government-run Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast a cellphone video showing an armored car flying a US flag on a US road, when it was reported that a car was blocking its path. Locals are seen walking on US-equipped vehicles, with at least two soldiers inside, as a civilian approaching a soldier and a US flag is seen tearing up.
TV says the protests spread and prevented further reinforcements from coming to the US to help Convoy. The injured civilian is undergoing treatment at Kamishli Hospital, the report said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says residents and armed anti-government militias have blocked a US convoy in Khirwat Ammu. Militia fires in the air to throw smoke bombs at American troops. Tensions escalated and US troops killed one person, the observation agency said.
The Observatory, which has a network of activists on the ground, said it was unclear whether the victims were civilians or militia members. The Observatory also said a Russian convoy arrived at the scene to ease tensions.
In the ninth year of the Syrian war, the United States is pulling in international players, including the United States, Russia and Turkey. Russia supports President Bashar Assad’s government, while Turkey is the main backer of the rebels.
On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would attack Syrian government forces anywhere in Syria if other Turkish troops were injured. He also added that Turkey is determined to bring back the Syrian army from what it has received in the northwestern Idlib province in late February.
“To date, as a matter of slight loss to our troops, I declare that we will attack the governing forces everywhere without the boundaries of the Idlib or Sochi agreements,” Erdogan told a ruling party meeting in Ankara.
Assad’s loyal forces, backed by Russian airspace, advanced to the latest insurgent-occupied areas of Idlib and nearby Aleppo, occupying dozens of cities and witnessing a huge humanitarian crisis.
Under the 2018 agreement with Russia at Sochi’s Krishna Sea Resort, Turkey has set up a dozen military observation posts in Idlib, where it supports several opposition parties. Several of these posts have been surrounded by government forces in recent weeks.
At least five Turkish troops have been killed in Syrian artillery fire this month.
Erdogan says he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Idlib over the telephone.
The Kremlin said the phone conversation had focused on the need to fully implement Russian-Turkish agreements.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that despite Turkey’s promise, Idlib militants continued to attack the Syrian army and threatened Russia’s facilities in Syria. “This is unacceptable and it is against the Sochi agreement,” Peshkov said at a conference with reporters.