US Patrol Returns Fire at Government Checkpoint in Northeast Syria

A U.S. military patrol returned fire at a checkpoint manned by pro-Syrian regime forces in northeast Syria, reportedly killing one soldier and wounding two others.“Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), conducting a routine anti-ISIS security patrol near Tal Al-Zahab, Syria, encountered a checkpoint occupied by pro-Syrian regime forces,” the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) terror group said in a statement Monday.“After receiving safe passage from the pro-regime forces, the patrol came under small-arms fire from individuals in the vicinity of the checkpoint,” the statement said, adding that “coalition troops returned fire in self-defense.”🔴On 8/17, @CJTFOIR & @cmoc_sdf, conducting a routine anti-ISIS security patrol near Tal Al-Zahab, encountered a checkpoint occupied by pro-Syrian regime forces…the patrol [was attacked]. Coalition troops returned fire in self-defense. No Coalition casualties. Full Statement 👇🏽
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) US soldiers stand at an oil field in the countryside of al-Qahtaniyah town in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province near the Turkish border, on Aug. 4, 2020.Oil deal reactionThe U.S. still has about 700 troops in the area who, according to U.S. officials, are protecting the region’s oil fields and preventing IS from reemerging.Last month, U.S. officials said an American firm has reached a deal with Kurdish-led authorities in northeast Syria to develop and export crude oil in areas under their control.The Syrian government has condemned the move, describing it as stealing Syria’s oil.Some experts believe Monday’s incident and other recent provocations by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad highlight a growing hostility toward U.S. actions in Syria.“The regime wants to express its disapproval of the oil deal by destabilizing the areas where the U.S. has military presence,” said Sadradeen Kinno, a Syrian researcher who follows developments in the country’s northeast.Last week, the SDF issued a statement in which it accused the Syrian government and other forces of creating chaos in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. The accusation came after recent assassinations of powerful Arab tribal leaders in Deir el-Zour.“We could see more of these provocations by the Assad forces, but they cannot escalate further because the regime fears a direct confrontation with U.S. troops,” Kinno told VOA.National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this article. 

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