The wave of US & Russian threats, warnings, accusations and counter-accusations in eastern Syria continues
Pentagon wants the Russian military to know the US keeps a close eye on its unit locations in Syria. It has leaked to the CNN that US military has recently increased such surveillance “amid Russian threats”:
US forces in Syria have increased surveillance of Russian troop locations following Moscow’s suggestion that US troops could get caught in Russian military operations, according to a US official directly familiar with US military planning.
While the US has kept a close eye on Russian troop locations for the past several months, the need for increased surveillance has become critical given the proximity of US and Russian units in eastern Syria.
The goal is to ensure that US forces continue to know the location of Russian forces, especially those in eastern Syria, at all times, said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Surveillance and reconnaissance levels routinely fluctuate based on threats.
For now the military assesses that the Russians don’t intend to attack US forces and that much of the rhetoric is politically driven. However, officials acknowledge they are a worried that a misunderstanding or poor Russian military skills could lead to an incident — concerns that are driving the decision to boost surveillance.
“We always know where they are,” the official said of the Russians.
In other words the Americans are issuing a thinly-veiled threat. “We can always get you (back).”
In the American minds the context for their own threat are Russian threats, but it’s safe to say the Russians won’t see it that way.
The Russians have accused US-SDF forces of cooperating with ISIS, and shelling Syrian army units with Russian soldiers nearby. In the same breath they warned they would “use all military means” to hit back against such attacks in the future.
To Americans, who have accused Russian jets of knowingly striking the SDF with US soldiers nearby, this is a further Russian threat. But to Russians the US disclosure they’re surveilling Russian troop locations more closely than ever before will sound like a further US threat to maybe attack Russian soldiers directly next time.
Any way you look at it, more gasoline is being poured on the fire of the race for Euphrates and the confrontation it threatens to explode into.
One positive sign is that US defense minister, Mattis at least seems unstressed and promises to “sort things out” with Russians in a “collaborative way”:
Asked about the Russian warnings during a press appearance before a meeting with the Polish minster of defense at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the recent events did not cause him concern.
“I am not worried. We continue to deal with the Russians in a collaborative way,” Mattis said. “We’ll sort this out.”