Russia Escalations in Syria risk direct dispute with U.S – Military officials warns

Obinwannem News Russia Escalations in Syria risk direct dispute with U.S - Military officials warns

Russian forces have conducted a series of operations against the U.S.-led coalition in Syria this month, including one this week at a strategically located base in the southern part of the country, U.S. military officials said.

The Russian actions have alarmed U.S. military officials, who are concerned that a miscalculation might escalate into an unintended conflict between the U.S. and Russian forces in Syria. Tensions between the two countries are already high following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and American efforts to arm the Ukraine military to defeat Russian forces there.

On Wednesday, Russia carried out airstrikes at the al-Tanf garrison, near Syria’s border with Jordan in southeast Syria, where U.S. troops have a train-and-advise mission with local fighters to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State.

Russia notified the U.S. through a communications line set up years ago that it was conducting the airstrikes in response to an alleged attack against Syrian government forces that the Russians defend that may have resulted in injuries and destroyed a vehicle.

Soon after, Russian jet fighters, including two Su-35s and one Su-24, were observed traversing the area over al-Tanf before striking a combat outpost at the garrison, a U.S. military official said.

The advance notice of the strike suggested to U.S. officials that the Russian military wasn’t actively targeting American troops but was harassing the U.S. mission in Syria—a tactic that Russian forces have previously used, resulting in some close calls over the

U.S. military forces weren’t in the vicinity of the base at the time of Wednesday’s strikes, which were earlier reported by CNN, and there were no American or coalition casualties as a result of the strike. But the operation punctuated what a U.S. military official characterized as a “significant increase in provocation” this month.
The Russian Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also this week, the Russians deployed two Su-34 jet fighters to a site where the U.S. was conducting a raid in northeast Syria to apprehend an Islamic State bomb maker. The jet fighters pulled back after the U.S. scrambled its own F-16 fighters to warn the Russian jets to leave the area, U.S. military officials said.
U.S. military officials declined to provide specifics of any of the other incidents they said have occurred in the past couple of weeks.
The U.S. seeks to avoid conflict with Russia in Syria, the top U.S. general in the region said.

“We seek to avoid miscalculation or a set of actions that could lead to unnecessary conflict: that remains our goal,” Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command, said in a statement. “However, Russia’s recent behavior has been provocative and escalatory.”

As many as 200 American troops have been based at the al-Tanf garrison as part of the U.S. campaign to mentor local partners to combat Islamic State militants. There are a total of about 900 American troops in Syria, according to military officials. In addition to al-Tanf, U.S. troops train and advise Syrian Kurdish forces in the eastern sector of the country.
Although the so-called caliphate of Islamic State was defeated in 2019, the U.S. mission there is to train coalition forces to help prevent the group from rising again.

U.S. and Russian forces have been operating in Syria for years. A communications line, used daily, has helped the two sides avoid direct conflict in Syria, though there have been some tensions, including over the al-Tanf garrison. The base is located near a major highway that runs from Iraq to Syria and which Bashar al-Assad’s government, the Russians and Iranian forces have long wanted U.S. troops to abandon.

In 2016, Russian aircraft bombed the al-Tanf base. No U.S. personnel were at the base at the time, but several Syrian fighters were among the casualties. The episode occurred after two U.S. Navy F-18s that had been on patrol near the base left to refuel. The Russians later said they had intended to strike terrorists.

In 2017, a Russian commander, Col. Gen. Vladimir Zarudnitsky demanded the U.S. withdraw its personnel from the al-Tanf garrison within 48 hours. The U.S. commander of the counter-Islamic State campaign at the time, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, refused and after a few tense moments the Russian general dropped his demand.

The spate of incidents comes as the Biden administration is trying to provide billions in weaponry to Ukraine without broadening the conflict. Avoiding a direct clash with Russia has been a top U.S. priority.

The most serious U.S.-Russian confrontation in Syria in recent years didn’t involve Russian troops. It came in February 2018 when combatants with the Wagner Group, a private Russian mercenary organization with close ties to the Kremlin, advanced into eastern Syria and fired on U.S. troops.

After those Russian fighters ignored the American military’s warning to leave, the U.S. mounted an intensive counterattack and killed “a couple hundred Russians,” Mike Pompeo said in 2018 during his confirmation hearing to be secretary of the state.

Lolo Ijeoma Njoku Obinwannem News Writer/ June 18, 2022

leave a reply

WP Radio
WP Radio