In the most violent skirmish in months between U.S. and Russian forces in Syria, a vehicle collision in the eastern part of the war-torn country left American troops with concussions, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
One official said Russian vehicles sideswiped a light-armored U.S. military vehicle, injuring four Americans.
The official said two Russian helicopters flew above the Americans, and one of the aircraft was within about 70 feet of the vehicle.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement that a Russian vehicle struck the American vehicle near Dayrick, in northeast Syria.
“To deescalate the situation, the coalition patrol departed the area,” Ullyot said.
“Unsafe and unprofessional actions like this represent a breach of deconfliction protocols, committed to by the United States and Russia in December 2019.”
While there have been several other recent incidents between the American and Russian troops in eastern Syria, officials described this one as the most serious.
U.S. troops are usually accompanied by members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Two officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of the incident that were not yet made public. One official said the incident happened deep inside the eastern Syria deconfliction zone, where Russian troops generally should not be present.
The officials said the incident is being discussed by senior officials from both countries who routinely work to prevent conflicts between troops in that area.
U.S. and Russian commanders have frequent conversations to try to avoid contact between their troops there.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke by phone on Wednesday to Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff. No details of the conversation were provided.
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