Winnefeld on US Clash with Syrian Forces

9 Februar 2018 – Earlier this week, the U.S. coalition says it killed an estimated 100 pro-Assad regime fighters in Syria in defense of its own troops. It’s the largest clash reported to date between U.S.-backed forces and pro-regime forces in Syria.

Here’s what happened, according to public statements given by actors involved: • About 500 pro-regime troops “initiated an unprovoked attack” against a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters, where U.S. coalition advisors were working with the U.S.-backed fighters, according to statement from U.S. Central Command.

  • The exchange took place 5 miles east of the established Euphrates River de-confliction line, where the pro-regime forces had advanced “likely to seize oilfields in Khusham,” a U.S. official told Reuters.
  • Coalition and Russian officials were “in regular communication…before, during and after” the assault, the same official said. Russian officials assured the Coalition they would not engage coalition forces in the vicinity.

Is it that simple? What does “self-defense” mean in this instance? And what about Russian contractors that were spotted in the area?

We asked retired Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his take on the incident. •“It is easier for Russia to deny involvement in an action, particularly if there is collateral damage or human rights are violated, when it uses contractors who do not wear Russian military uniforms. It also lowers (in only a very small way) the likelihood of a confrontation with the U.S. if these forces come into contact.”  Read full text