The U.S. has deployed additional troops and armored vehicles into eastern Syria after a number of clashes with Russian forces, including a recent vehicle collision that injured four American service members.
Navy Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. has also sent in radar systems and increased fighter jet patrols over the region to better protect American and coalition forces.
“The United States does not seek conflict with any other nation in Syria, but will defend Coalition forces if necessary,” Urban said.
A senior U.S. official said a half-dozen fighting vehicles and fewer than 100 additional troops were sent in to eastern Syria.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the reinforcements are meant to be a signal to Russia to avoid any more unsafe and provocative actions against the U.S. and its allies there.
There have been a number of incidents this year between U.S. and Russian forces who patrol in eastern Syria.
The most serious came last month, when officials said Russian vehicles sideswiped a light-armored U.S. military vehicle, injuring four Americans.
A U.S. official said at the time that two Russian helicopters also flew above the Americans, and one of the aircraft came within about 70 feet of the vehicle.
Russia, which backs the Syrian government, has long opposed American presence in the country.
The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the U.S. for the vehicle collision.
The ministry said Russia had notified the U.S.-led coalition about the Russian military police convoy’s route and said the U.S tried to block the Russian patrol.
The four American service members injured in the crash suffered concussions.
U.S. troops are usually accompanied by members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on the patrols, and they have stayed in the region to root out remaining Islamic State insurgents.
The crash last month took place near Dayrick, in northeast Syria, where Russian troops should generally not be present.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said the U.S. patrol left the area “to deescalate the situation.”
While there have been several other recent incidents between the American and Russian troops in eastern Syria, officials have described the August crash as the most concerning.
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