Syrian forces and local civilian residents loyal to Damascus regularly confront US forces illegally operating in the country’s oil and food-rich eastern territories. The tension-filled incidents have occasionally led to bloodshed.
Syrian forces operating a checkpoint along the strategic M4 Motorway in the country’s Hasakah province have forced a US convoy traveling along the road to turn around and go back where it came from, sources on the ground have told Sputnik.
Sources said the incident took place at the al-Kazia checkpoint, situated southwest of the city of Qamishli, with a convoy of five US Mine Resistant Armoured Vehicles, or MRAPs, prevented from passing through.
Sputnik Arabic published footage of the incident, which was said to have taken place on 21 October, showing Syrian troops at the checkpoint allowing a bus and an ambulance to pass through, but blocking US machine gun turret-equipped MRAP vehicles flying large American flags.
At several points in the video, US and Syrian troops could be seen conferring with one another through a translator, with the lead vehicle of the convoy parking in the center of the road for a few moments. A Syrian and American officer could be seen shaking hands, after which the Americans getting back into the vehicle and the MRAP setting a course back in the direction it came from. Other vehicles in the convoy then pulled three-point turns and similarly drove away from the checkpoint.
The incident took place two days after an occurrence in Hamo village in Qamishli’s eastern countryside on 19 October in which a group of local residents intercepted a US convoy attempting to pass near the village, and similarly forced it to turn around. That incident reportedly involved three MRAPs and a Humvee.
The US military convoy had to turn around and leave after a group of locals blocked the way in the Qamishli countryside in Syria earlier today.
Reminder: The US military has no legal ground to be in Syria.
— Vera Van Horne (@VeraVanHorne) October 19, 2021
US forces and their Syrian Kurdish allies seized control over wide swathes of Syrian territory in the country’s east, including as much of 90 percent the Arab Republic’s oil and gas producing regions and much of its breadbasket, in 2017. Washington has justified its illegal presence by citing the alleged threat posed by Daesh (ISIS)* remnants. Damascus has denounced the US presence, and demanded that the Americans and all other foreign forces not explicitly invited in to assist in the fight against terror vacate the country.
Residents of northeastern Syria regularly try to block the passage of US forces and their Kurdish allies through their villages and towns, accusing them of engaging in the pillaging of oil, gas and wheat resources, spreading chaos and looting.
When Syrian army troops are involved in the standoffs with US forces, deadly clashes have occasionally taken place. In August 2020, a firefight between a US convoy and Syrian forces left one Syrian soldier dead and two others injured.
For over a year, the Pentagon blamed the Syrian army for the deadly incident. However, last month, Task & Purpose published excerpts from a redacted report by the military which revealed that US army platoon sergeant Robert Nicoson was facing court-martial for alleged misconduct before and after the gun battle. The soldier was charged with violating orders, reckless endangerment, making unlawful threats against Syrian soldiers, and obstruction of justice.
According to the report, the sergeant ordered his convoy to head through the Syrian army checkpoint despite knowledge that he “did not have permission to do so.” After the shootout, apparently aware of the possible consequences of his actions, the officer ordered his comrades to delete video of his interaction at the checkpoint, and allegedly ordered one soldier to “falsely claim” that they’d been given permission to drive through.
* A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.