A Syrian was killed and another was wounded in a clash Wednesday between the Syrian army and a U.S. patrol in the town of Khirbet Ummo in Qamishli city in northeastern Syria, state news agency SANA reported.
The Syrian army stopped four U.S. military vehicles at the checkpoint in the town of Khirbet Ummo, adding that hundreds of civilians gathered at the checkpoint and prevented the patrol from passing.
Later, the US carried out airstrikes on Khirbet Ammo and direct clashes broke out between locals and American forces.
State-run Al-Ikhbariya TV aired a cellphone video showing an armored vehicle flying a U.S. flag standing on a rural road while a car appeared to be blocking its way.
Locals are seen walking past the U.S. armored vehicle, with at least two soldiers inside, one of whom steps down as civilians approach. One civilian is seen tearing a U.S. flag as he approaches the soldier.
The TV said protests spread, preventing reinforcements from coming to help the U.S. convoy.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said residents and armed pro-government militiamen in Khirbet Ammu blocked the path of a U.S. The militia fired in the air, prompting U.S. troops to fire smoke bombs. Tension escalated and U.S. troops killed one person, the Observatory said.
A U.S. military spokesman said coalition forces conducting a patrol near Qamishli encountered a checkpoint occupied by pro-Syrian government forces. After coalition troops issued a series of warnings in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, the patrol came under small-arms fire from unknown individuals, coalition spokesman Myles Caggins said.
“In self-defense, coalition troops returned fire. The situation was de-escalated and is under investigation,” he added in a statement, which did not refer to any deaths.
The incident occurred after Syrian troops stopped a U.S. convoy of four vehicles traveling on the road in the village of Khirbet Ammu, and hundreds of people gathered at the checkpoint to prevent it from continuing on its way. The U.S. troops opened fire and after a civilian was killed and another wounded, the residents attacked the convoy and damaged four vehicles.
The Observatory, which has a network of activists on the ground, said that a Russian convoy arrived on the scene to defuse the tension.
The Syrian war, now in its ninth year, has pulled in international players including the U.S., Russia and Turkey. Russia has supported President Bashar Assad’s government, while Turkey is the rebels’ main backer.
The reported incident marks a confrontation involving U.S. and Syria troops in the crowded region where Russian troops are also deployed — and is sure to further escalate tensions.
Hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed in northeastern Syria, working with their local partners from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to fight against the Islamic State group. The U.S. carries out patrols in northeastern Syria, but it was not immediately clear why the convoy drove into a government-controlled area.
It’s worth noting that the U.S. forces have bases in northeastern Syria mainly in areas controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militias.