American service members deployed to Syria have engaged Russian troops in combat multiple times since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014, a U.S. ambassador claimed last week.
- In an interview with Russian state media published on the U.S. Embassy in Russia's website on Nov. 21, U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey stated that American and Russian troops have clashed “about a dozen times” in recent years.
- “There have been various engagements, some involving exchange of fire, some not,” Jeffrey told reporters. “Again, we are continuing our mission there and we are continuing to exercise our right of self-defense.”
- While Jeffrey declined to provide details of those engagements, his comments came in response to a question regarding the Feb. 7 firefight near Deir ez-Zor that saw U.S. military personnel deliver a spanking to hundreds of Russian mercenaries and Syrian pro-regime fighters in eastern Syria.
- “We don’t comment on specific military actions of that nature. U.S. forces are legitimately in Syria, supporting local forces in the fight against Daesh,” Jeffrey said. “As appropriate — and this has occurred about a dozen times in one or another place in Syria — they exercise the right of self-defense when they feel threatened. That’s all we say on that.”