The U.S. military will send mechanized forces to eastern Syria to protect oil fields around Deir ez-Zor, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Friday.

"We are reinforcing that position," Esper said at a news conference in Brussels. "It will include some mechanized forces. I'm not going to get into details. But the mission in Syria remains what the mission in Syria began with: It's always been about defeating the ISIS coalition."

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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.

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The Department of Defense has remained relatively tight-lipped on the February 7 firefight that saw U.S. military personnel deliver a kinetic spanking to hundreds of Russian mercenaries and Syrian pro-regime fighters in eastern Syria.

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That’s a question buzzing around Washington these days. My friend Eliot Cohen, a former State Department counselor who is now a professor of strategy at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, tells me he is “convinced that the Russians will try to get even."

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Leaked audio recordings said to be of Russian mercenaries in Syria capture expressions of lament and humiliation over a battle in early February involving U.S. forces and Russian nationals.

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More details have emerged from a massive battle in Syria that is said to have pitted hundreds of Russian military contractors and Syrian and Iranian pro-government fighters against the U.S. service members and their Syrian rebel allies — and it looks as if it was a mission to test the United States' resolve.

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