Attack on Coalition Forces in Qamishli

On 12 February, a convoy of US Oshkosh MRAPs approached a checkpoint in the Syrian village of Qamishli. Civilians surround the MRAPs and began to quarrel with dismounted troops. Rocks were thrown towards the vehicles. A bunch of men shouted at two soldiers when suddenly someone opened fire on the US convoy with small arms. Civilians rAn away from the American troops as bullets start hitting the vehicle armor. The angry attackers positioned themselves between US vehicles and nearby Russian forces, knowing that US forces would not return fire in fear of possible casualties among the Russians.

According to Col. Myles Caggins, a US Army spokesman, while the patrol was forced to return fire in self-defence, they were eventually able to deescalate the situation and withdraw without taking casualties. It was subsequently confirmed that a single enemy combatant had been killed during the confrontation.

Since June 2014, the US troops have been engaged in Operation Inherent Resolve which aim is to help defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. 4,000 soldiers participate in restoring peace and stability to the region. Their patrols and engagements being difficult due to the extremist approach of Daesh and numerous counts of suicide attacks attempt on bases, vehicles, and personnel. The situation, however, has changed since 2014, the US troops in Syria are engaged in stabilizing the tensions between Kurds, Syrians, and Turks.

In October 2019, the Syrian Civil War, which is a part of the rise of the Islamic State, began a new phase. Turkish Armed Forces entered Syrian territory in order to secure a safe zone between Turkey and Kurdish forces.

According various reports the US convoy drove into an area controlled by Assad’s regime. Supposedly, civilians started the quarrel due to American troops being responsible for killing an inhabitant of that village. A number of videos and posts about the confrontation were posted to social media. The situation escalated quickly as unidentified attackers started shooting towards US troops while non-combatants looked on.

As the complex conflict in Syrian continues, such engagements seem inevitable. In light of the recent events, the US troops are going to face more hostility from the Syrian population as the conflict with Turkey escalates. With the Coalition Forces presence as well as Russian Armed Forces maintaining patrols, the risk of a fatal firefight between two sides is a major concern. The consequences of such an encounter may lets to a situation that end with a tragedy of international scale. Until such an unfortunate incident occurs, the forces delegated to maintain peace in the area will have to work out a strategy that will allow them to prevent more such engagements from happening.