American troops heading toward the Iraqi border have been attacked from land held by Turkish-backed militants in northern Syria, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has claimed. The attack comes amid a US withdrawal from the region.
The convoy was traveling along the M4 motorway – which runs parallel to the Turkish border through land captured by Turkey during its anti-Kurdish ‘Peace Spring’ offensive last month – when it was attacked, the ministry reported on Sunday.
The Americans were fired upon from “territory controlled by Pro-Turkish fighters” of the Syrian National Armies, the Russian statement read. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
The reported exchange took place amid an American withdrawal from northern Syria, where US forces had fought alongside Kurdish militias against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal was heavily criticized for effectively green-lighting a Turkish military crackdown against the Kurds, whom it considers terrorists.
Since the withdrawal was announced, not all US forces in Syria have packed up and headed for Iraq, as the convoy hit on Sunday apparently did. Some have been deployed elsewhere in the country to guard oilfields, keeping them in Kurdish – and American – hands.
President Trump explained his rationale for leaving some forces behind to pull guard duty on Friday, telling reporters “I like oil! We’re keeping the oil.”
DETAILS TO FOLLOW