US Troops Block Russian Convoy in Syria
Russia aims to expand military presence in northeast Syria
According to some reports, Russian officers discussed with residents of one of the villages the possibility of building a military base.
WASHINGTON – Russian troops in Syria are seeking to expand their presence in the northeast of the war-torn country, local sources said..
Last week, a Russian military convoy arrived in a village near Syria’s border with Turkey and Iraq. According to some reports, Russian officers met with local residents and discussed the possibility of building a military base in the area..
A local journalist told VOA that the village of Kasir Deeb is located near the city of El Malikiyah on the northeastern tip of the country. The majority of the population of Al-Malikia are Kurds.
“I spoke with the people who attended this meeting,” said freelance journalist Nishan Mohammad. “They confirmed that the Russians expressed a desire to build a military base in the village.”.
In recent months, Russia, a staunch supporter of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has strengthened its position in the country’s northeast, which is largely controlled by local Kurdish forces..
“Russians move almost freely in our region,” a senior representative of the Syrian Democratic Forces told Voice of America, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Their ultimate goal is to drive the Americans out of northeastern Syria.”.
The simultaneous presence of US and Russian forces in the area has at times raised tensions. In several recent incidents, US and Russian military columns have clashed head-to-head, but tensions have eased after consultations from both sides..
Last week, local media published a video showing US and Russian troops together. The situation was described as a joint patrol. The US military, however, denied this explanation..
“We did not conduct joint patrols with Russia,” Colonel Miles Caggins, a spokesman for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, told Voice of America last week..
“We are not coordinating our missions in northeastern Syria. What people saw in the video and in beautiful photographs was work to eliminate conflict situations, “he added..
“Every day, there are conversations here between coalition leaders and Russian leaders in Syria, where we share and exchange information about where our patrols will go,” said Kaggins, adding that from time to time, there is indeed rapprochement between the two sides..
“This kind of convergence is usually handled professionally,” he told Voice of America..