US military denies Syrian state media report that helicopters attacked a Syrian army checkpoint
'There was no airstrike conducted anywhere near the vicinity of this incident.'
Syrian state media is claiming that two U.S. helicopters attacked a Syrian army checkpoint in northeastern Syria near the Kurdish-held city of Qamishli on Monday, killing one soldier and injuring two others, according to Reuters.
However, Army Col. Myles Caggins, the spokesman for the U.S. military-led coalition in Syria, said that while U.S. helicopters were at the scene, they did not fire at any Syrian regime forces.
“There was no airstrike conducted anywhere near the vicinity of this incident,” Caggins told Task & Purpose on Monday.
The incident happened shortly after a U.S. patrol was prevented from passing by an army checkpoint in the area, state media said.
In a statement, the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve said that the incident occurred while coalition and Syrian forces were conducting a routine anti-ISIS security patrol near the town of Tal Al-Zahab.
“After receiving safe passage from the pro-regime forces, the patrol came under small arms fire from individuals in the vicinity of the checkpoint,” OIR said in a statement. “Coalition troops returned fire in self-defense. The Coalition did not conduct an airstrike.”
No coalition forces were injured in the incident, which is currently under investigation by OIR.
Northeastern Syria is mainly under the control of U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces who are spearheaded by Kurdish fighters, but Syrian army forces are deployed in certain locations under agreements with the Kurds.
Read Operation Inherent Resolve's entire statement below:
On Aug. 17 at approx. 9:20 a.m. (Syria Time), Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces, conducting a routine anti-ISIS security patrol near Tal Al-Zahab, Syria, encountered a checkpoint occupied by pro-Syrian regime forces. After receiving safe passage from the pro-regime forces, the patrol came under small arms fire from individuals in the vicinity of the checkpoint. Coalition troops returned fire in self-defense. The Coalition did not conduct an airstrike. No Coalition casualties occurred. The Coalition patrol returned to base. The incident remains under investigation.
UPDATE: This story was updated on Aug. 17 to include comments from Army Col. Myles Caggins.