FOUR U.S. troops were injured when a Russian military vehicle rammed their patrol in Syria, two U.S. officials said today.
The incident highlights the risks of troops from both countries operating in close proximity in northern Syria and the potential for an escalation in tensions.
One of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the injuries were a result of a collision and not any exchange of fire.
The other official said the incident took place earlier this week in northeastern Syria and the injuries were mild.
They are believed to be suffering with mild concussion-like symptoms.
The Pentagon and the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in the region, declined to comment.
The U.S. military does not generally comment on injuries.
However, last month a paratrooper was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in eastern Syria.
Videos on social media showed Russian military vehicles, backed by a pair of helicopters, driving dangerously close to U.S. armoured vehicles.
A Russian vehicle and a U.S. vehicle then appear to collide.
The U.S. vehicle in the encounter appears to be a MRAP, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected, which is designed to protect against roadside bombs.
The origin of the videos was unclear.
Other videos appear to show a Russian helicopter hovering over U.S. forces in an attempt to make them disperse.
Earlier this year, another video showed a close interaction between troops on a Syrian road.
About 500 U.S. forces remain in northern Syria after a sharp reduction in troops that were initially there to drive out Islamic State militants from all of their strongholds in the country.
Some of the areas also have oil resources, something President Donald Trump has cited as a justification for keeping U.S. troops partnered with Kurdish allies in the region.
U.S. and Russian diplomats had previously negotiated ways of the two superpowers avoiding confrontations between the two sides as a way of avoiding escalating the situation during the civil war.
The U.S. has backed the Syrian Democratic Force while Russia has supported President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Rules were established in 2015 between the two sides and they have maintained communication links in an attempt to avoid conflict.
President Donald Trump announced he was pulling troops out of Syria in 2019 but faced critics who thought he was conceding ground to Russia and Assad.