Source: Amani Hamad, Al Arabiya English https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/18/Moscow-s-provocations-in-Syria-risk-conflict-with-US-military-officials-warn
Russia’s forces carried out a number of operations against the US-led coalition in Syria this month, raising concerns that they may result in a direct conflict between US and Russian forces in Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
According to US military officials, one of these operations was carried out on Wednesday when Russia conducted an airstrike at the al-Tanf garrison, southeast of Syria.
US troops at the base, which is close to Jordan’s border, manage a mission to train and advise local fighters to combat the resurgence of ISIS.
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After Russia informed the US through a communications line that it was carrying out the operation in response to a supposed attack against Syrian government forces, its military aircrafts struck “a combat outpost at the garrison,” a US military official said.
US officials believe that informing the US of the strike before carrying it out implies that Russia “wasn’t actively targeting American troops but was harassing the US mission in Syria.”
Although there weren’t American troops in the proximity of the base when Russia conducted the strike which did not cause any casualties among US or coalition troops, a US military official said the operation amounted to a “significant increase in provocation” this month.
According to the report, such moves by Russia have raised concerns among US military officials as they fear that a “miscalculation might escalate into an unintended conflict between the US and Russian forces in Syria.”
Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, the head of US Central Command, noted that the US aims to avoid conflict with Russia in Syria, adding, however, that Moscow’s latest moves are tantamount to an escalation.
“We seek to avoid miscalculation or a set of actions that could lead to unnecessary conflict: that remains our goal,” Kurilla said in a statement.
“However, Russia’s recent behavior has been provocative and escalatory.”
Tensions have run high between the US and Russia after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in what Moscow calls a “special military operation.”
Moscow claims its operation against its pro-Western neighbor aims to “denazify” the country. Ukraine and the West, however, reject this as a baseless pretext for an invasion.