Standoff: U.S. troops block Russian forces from capturing Syrian oil field – By Ben Wolfgang (The Washington Times) / Jan 21 2020
U.S. troops last weekend reportedly found themselves in a standoff with Russian forces trying to gain access to key oil fields in northeastern Syria.
The Saturday standoff — first reported by Turkish media outlets, citing unnamed local officials in the Turkey-Syria border region — seems to have ended without any shots being fired or any real risk of violence between the two sides. American military personnel reportedly stopped a Russian convoy near the town of Rmelan, and the Russian forces then apparently turned back and returned to their home base.
Still, the near-clash serves as a reminder of the high stakes in Syria, where the U.S. military’s mission involves guarding oil fields and preventing them from falling into the hands of the Islamic State, Russian forces and other actors.
Pentagon officials did not directly address the reported confrontation with Russian forces last weekend but said there is a focus on avoiding conflict with other “regional forces” in the area.
“In Syria, the Coalition deconflicts military operations with other regional forces, in order to keep our troops safe,” Col. Myles B. Caggins III, spokesperson for the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve, told The Washington Times on Tuesday. “We seek to deconflict our movements through pre-existing communication channels and interlocutors, in order to prevent unnecessary and unplanned military interactions, and de-escalate between forces when necessary.”