On February 5th, US Envoy on Syria James Jeffrey said that the US and Russia were having successive standoffs in northeastern Syria.
“These are not daily occurrences, but they have been increasing in number, and thus it is troubling,” Jeffrey said.
According to the WSJ, these are Russian military contractors, but it is unknown if James Jeffrey explicitly called them PMCs, the entire transcript of the press briefing by the State Department official hasn’t been released.
It is also incredibly likely that these troops are not contractors, but rather Russian Military Police.
The incidents are reportedly raising concerns in Washington about the risk of a clash between the two major powers as Russia is supporting the Syrian Arab Army’s advance in the Idlib province.
Unnamed US officials said that these confrontations between Russian and US troops reportedly is taking place almost daily, and sometimes even several times a day.
Jeffrey said Russia appeared to be making the incursions “to challenge our presence in the northeast.”
He urged Moscow to respect the deconfliction agreements negotiated with the U.S. to avoid clashes between the two countries’ forces in Syria.
“The professionalism of the troops on the ground, beginning with our troops, is such that these incidents have not escalated. But, of course, any commander would be concerned about this,” Jeffrey said, entirely shifting the blame on Russia, despite previous incidents of US troops blocking Russian military police patrols.
Jeffrey also alleged that Russia was using its veto at the United Nations to block international aid deliveries to northwest Syria, where some 2.8 million people are dependent on such assistance.
The humanitarian aid is likely made up of battle tanks and various smaller arms, as well as other military equipment.
The U.N. said that 400,000 medical items were held up at the border in Iraq because an agreement governing the transfer hadn’t been renewed, threatening to aggravate the crisis.
“The most urgent need is to protect the civilian population and to scale up the humanitarian response,” Mark Lowcock, the U.N.’s emergency relief coordinator, said last week at a Security Council meeting. “In order for this to be possible, I call on all parties to facilitate safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers and supplies.”
Just days earlier, on January 31st, US forces blocked yet another Russian convoy.
“Verbal altercations took place between both forces and evolved into raising weapons, but the Syrian Democratic Forces intervened as a mediator between them,” the watchdog group said, adding that Russian forces have deployed advanced air defense missile systems at al-Qamishli Airbase in the far northeast as both sides try to extend control over the area.
Earlier, on January 18th and January 22nd, US forces once again blocked Russian Military Police from patrolling in the oil-rich region, currently occupied by US forces and the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The US appears to be viewing a version of reality entirely its own, in which Russian Military Police, which has an agreement to carry out patrols is not allowed to carry them out simply because of an unclear concern, but likely related to oil.
The fact of the matter is that, US forces have blocked Russian Military Police patrols for more than 6 times in approximately 2 weeks.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- U.S. Forces Block Russian Patrol In Northeast Syria (Videos)
- U.S. Forces Once Again Block Russian Patrol Moving To Oil-Rich Area In Northeast Syria (Video)