There are screw-ups and there are major-league screw-ups, but the U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement takes the prize for the mother of all screw-ups by implying that U.S. and Russian troops are shooting at each other in Syria – they aren’t.
- Let’s recap. Ambassador James Jeffrey recently told Russian media that U.S. troops have had to defend themselves “about a dozen times” in Syria, according to a transcript of the interview that was posted on the Russian embassy’s website.
- When a reporter asked Jeffrey if any of those incidents involved Russian forces, he replied: “As I said there have been various engagements, some involving exchange of fire, some not.”
- To news outlets, it appeared that Jeffrey had announced the United States and Russia were fighting a quiet war in Syria. That made sense, considering Russian military contractors attacked U.S. troops and their Syrian allies in February – and they were nigh annihilated.
- The U.S. government did damage control on Wednesday, explaining what Jeffrey meant to say.
- “The ambassador was speaking broadly about U.S. forces in Syria to defeat ISIS and their right to defend themselves when threatened,” a U.S. official told Task & Purpose. “Ambassador Jeffrey was not confirming ‘multiple incidents’ occurred between Russian and American forces in Syria.”
- For the moment, World War III has been averted.
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