Details about the incident are still limited, but a video has emerged online showing a U.S. military M-ATV mine-resistant vehicle running a Russian Tigr armored utility vehicle off the road somewhere in northeastern Syria. The incident reportedly occurred relatively close to where American troops found themselves in a standoff a mob of civilians and militiamen aligned with Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad a week ago. Russian forces were also present during that altercation, which ultimately left at least one Syrian dead.
A camera inside what appears to be a civilian vehicle also traveling along the same stretch of road captured the incident, which reportedly took place near the town of Qamishli, which is also near the Turkish border. It is unclear when exactly the events in the video actually occurred.
The video shows a Russian convoy consisting of three vehicles, with the 4x4 Tigr leading a 6x6 Typhoon-K armored truck and an 8x8 BTR-series armored personnel carrier. This trio starts the video behind two American military vehicles, the aforementioned M-ATV and a MaxxPro MRAP mine-resistant truck.
The vehicle carrying the camera drives alongside the Russians before squeezing in between them and the Americans to allow oncoming traffic to pass. The individuals filming the scene then begin to pass the U.S. military vehicles on the left.
It's not entirely clear why, but the Russian Tigr also makes to pass the Americans on the right at the same time, deliberately going offroad, and then wedges itself between the American M-ATV and the MaxxPro vehicles. The crew of the M-ATV responds by first attempting to block the Russians from passing any further and then drives them off the road. The two vehicles appear to actually hit each other at one point.
A civilian bystander on the roadside is seen leaping out of the way of the Tigr just in time. The Russian and American vehicles then come to a stop as the vehicle carrying the camera drives by.
Incidents between U.S. and Russian forces in northeastern Syria have been increasingly common for weeks now, though they have typically involved American troops block the movement of Russia's forces. There have been some reports of more physical altercations, including a fistfight in January.
This does appear to be the first known incident of Russian and American convoys actually duking it out on Syria's roadways, which points to a serious escalation in tensions. It's in some ways reminiscent of a spate of aggressive altercations between Russia's combat jets and American planes in the skies over the country that seemed to subside two years ago. U.S. and Russian aircraft, as well as naval vessels, have had similar encounters elsewhere in the world since then, as well.
Russia's forces have been patrolling in the area, which was previously ostensibly under the control of U.S. forces and their local, predominantly Kurdish partners, since October 2019. Russia cut a deal that month with Turkey to move into the area following the start of a Turkish military intervention aimed at ejecting U.S.-backed Kurdish forces from a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.
The Kremlin also claims that its troops were directly responsible for resolving the violent incident in the village of Khirbet Ammu, to the east of Qamishli, last week. The exact role Russian forces played in that incident remains unclear and video reportedly showing a Russian military policeman extolling the civilian mob to shout anti-American and pro-Assad slogans has since emerged online.
This new road rage incident is exactly the kind of worrying interaction that the War Zone
We will update this story as more information becomes available.
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