The Russian Defence Ministry has confirmed that the United States “intercepted” a Russian patrol near the northern Syrian town of Manbij 14 months ago, saying that the incident actually proves the effectiveness of the existing military-to-military deconflicting channels.
“At present in Syria, the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the United States of America have absolutely normal and professional relations. We know where American forces are located, and the US side is aware of where Russian military personnel are operating. Any cases of inconsistent actions in areas where there is direct contact [between the two militaries] are promptly resolved through existing deconflicting channels”, the Russian ministry said.
According to the ministry, the reported situation occurred about 14 months ago near Manbij, “which was at that time under triple control of the so-called US-led anti-terrorist coalition, Kurdish units and Syrian government troops”.
“Back then, all parties operating on the ground had to constantly coordinate their actions to avoid conflict situations. Therefore, the case mentioned by the US representative is a clear example of the effectiveness of the existing channels of interaction between the military of the two countries in Syria”, the ministry stated.
It added that any attempts on part of some Pentagon officials to “artificially escalate” the situation with patrolling in Syria “do not help to stabilise the situation and only interfere with the military doing their job”.
On 23 January, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey said that Russian and US ground troops had occasional “hiccups” in deconflicting their activities in Syria.
He, in particular, said that the US “intercepted” some 14 months ago a Russian major general who was travelling to Manbij. The issue of intercepting the Russian officer was eventually resolved via military-to-military channels, according to the diplomat.