The war in Ukraine has relegated some “hot spots” to the background, such as Syria, where the situation remains complicated, with the involvement of various actors (an anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States, Russia, Turkey, and Iran) and the presence of various jihadist organizations, including the Islamic State [IS or Daesh].
US CENTCOM, the US military command for the Near East and Central Asia, recently announced that during the month of May 17, operations were carried out against Daesh in Syria within the framework of Operation Inherent Resolve [OIR, name of the coalition international]. In total, 22 members of the terrorist group were “neutralized” [20 captured and 2 killed].
In addition, to support the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF, of which Syrian Kurdish militias provide the bulk of the troops], the United States has deployed some 900 troops in eastern Syria. This is leading to incidents with Russian forces present in the country and with Iranian-affiliated armed groups.
In this context, on June 12, 22 US soldiers were injured “of varying degrees” in an incident with a helicopter in northeastern Syria. In its brief statement, US CENTCOM stated that the condition of ten of the wounded warranted their evacuation to “medical facilities” outside their area of operations.
The circumstances of this incident, the type of helicopter involved or the affected unit were not specified. Given the aircraft’s cargo capacity, it could have been a CH-47 Chinook or even a V-22 Osprey. That being said, US CENTCOM has indicated that no hostile fire against the aircraft has been reported, and an investigation has been opened.
That said, and despite the so-called “deconflict” measures, cohabitation between US and Russian forces has been difficult, especially since the war in Ukraine began.
The head of US CENTCOM, General Erik Kurilla, recently said he had observed a “significant” increase in “aggressive” Russian military flights over US bases in Syria. And in November 2022, an MQ-9 Reaper MALE [Medium Altitude Long Endurance] drone was nearly shot down by a Russian Pantsir S1 [or SA-22 Greyhound] air defense system.
At the same time, US bases are regularly the target of attacks claimed by pro-Iranian armed groups.