One Syrian civilian was killed and another wounded as American and Syrian forces clashed near Qamishli in northeast Syria, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA.
The incident began after Syrian Armed Forces soldiers prevented four US vehicles from crossing a road near the village of Khirbet Ammo. Hundreds of local residents gathered in the area to help prevent the vehicles from crossing, and the American forces opened fire on the civilians, killing one and injuring another. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) described the Syrians involved in the incident as armed Assad regime loyalists.
The villagers damaged four of the American armored vehicles, and the US forces called in reinforcements including five additional armored vehicles to evacuate the damaged vehicles and soldiers.
In Bweir al-Bouassi, another nearby village, locals blocked the passage of US armored vehicles and pelted them with rocks. Several young men climbed on top of one of the vehicles and removed the US flag from it.
Later, the US carried out airstrikes on Khirbet Ammo, according to SANA. “Direct clashes with light weapons” broke out between residents of Khirbet Ammo and the American forces. The forces subsequently withdrew from the village under the cover of US aircraft. Russian forces arrived in the area to help break up the clashes, according to SOHR.
In response to clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Tuesday, “The ongoing assaults by the Assad regime and Russia must stop. I’ve sent Jim Jeffrey to Ankara to coordinate steps to respond to this destabilizing attack. We stand by our NATO ally Turkey.”
US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Syrian conflict, James Jeffrey, left Washington on Monday for Ankara to meet with senior Turkish officials and “discuss issues of mutual concern, including the Assad regime’s Russian-backed military offensive in Idlib,” according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency news.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone.
Syrian regime shelling killed more than a dozen Turkish soldiers and civilians between February 3 and 10 in two serious incidents. After an attack on Monday in which five Turkish soldiers were killed, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Syrian regime forces were “dealt a resounding blow” in response, according to the Anadolu Agency, adding that “there is more to come.”
According to Turkey’s Defense Ministry, 115 targets were struck and 101 military personnel were “neutralized.”
The Syrian Foreign Ministry stated on Wednesday that Erdogan’s statements are “hollow” and “only reflect ignorance.” A ministry official added that Erdogan is a “tool for international terrorism and a puppet in the hands of its US master.”
“The Syrian Arab Republic reaffirms that any presence of Turkish forces on its territories is illegitimate and a blatant violation of the international law, and it holds the Turkish regime fully responsible for the consequences of that presence.”
Seth J. Frantzman contributed to this report.