Syria says U.S. forces clash with Syrian troops, killing 1

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — U.S. forces clashed with Syrian troops in the northeast on Monday, killing at least one soldier and wounding two others, state media said, while the U.S. military said it responded to small arms fire near a Syrian checkpoint.

Tensions have been rising in northeastern Syria in recent months as the Syrian military has cut off American access to several areas.

State news agency SANA quoted an unnamed Syrian military official as saying a U.S. helicopter gunship attacked an army checkpoint in the village of Tal Dahab, near the town of Qamishli, at around 9:45 a.m. (0645 GMT). The official said a Syrian soldier was killed and two others were wounded.

SANA said the Syrian army prevented an American convoy from passing through.

The U.S. military said a joint force made up of U.S.-led coalition forces and allied Syrian Kurdish-led fighters encountered a Syrian army checkpoint after carrying out a patrol against the Islamic State group. It said they were granted safe passage.

It said the patrol then came under small arms fire from the vicinity of the checkpoint and returned fire. There were no casualties among U.S.-led coalition forces or the Kurdish-led fighters, the statement said.

It denied a helicopter gunship attacked the Syrian army checkpoint.

Hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed in northeastern Syria, working with their local partners from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to combat the Islamic State group.

Elsewhere in Syria, a Turkish military vehicle was “slightly damaged” during an attack Monday on Turkish troops who were on a joint patrol with Russian counterparts in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, Turkey’s military said.

Turkey and Russia have been conducting joint patrols of the region as part of a cease-fire agreement they reached in March. Russia is a close ally of the Syrian government, while Turkey supports the armed Syrian opposition.

The attack occurred during the 25th such patrol, the military reported in a statement posted on Twitter.

The statement said Turkish troops had responded to the attack and that an operation was continuing.

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Associated Press write Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara, Turkey.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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