Russia has voiced its protest against “provocative actions” by US forces in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, where they have been stationed for several years.
Rear Admiral Oleg Gurinov, deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, made the remarks on Friday, saying the protest has been made to the US-led coalition in Syria over the American forces’ actions in the oil-rich province.
He went on to say that Russian forces had twice spotted US troops in areas that lay outside their agreed zones of operation, without giving details of timing.
“Provocative actions on the part of US armed forces units have been noted in Hasakah province … the Russian side lodged a protest with the coalition,” Russia's TASS news agency, quoted Gurinov as saying.
“During joint Russian-Turkish patrols, the movement of two patrols conducted by the so-called anti-terrorist coalition were tracked along the non-deconfliction routes near Deiruna-Aga and Saramsak. The Russian side has protested to the coalition,” he added.
Gurinov further stressed that the violation of the de-confliction agreements by the coalition jeopardizes the fragile balance of power in the region, adding that it will also have a negative impact on the development of the situation.
The US military has for long stationed its forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.
Damascus, however, maintains the deployment is meant to plunder the country’s natural resources. Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil.
The US and its allies invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh. The Takfiri terrorist group had emerged as Washington was running out of excuses to extend its regional meddling or enlarge it in scale.
American forces sustain their illegal presence on the Arab country's soil, although Damascus and its allies defeated Daesh in late 2017.
Russia – which together with Turkey is carrying out joint patrols in northern Syria– has established special "de-confliction" zones where the US-led coalition can operate.
Russia has been helping Syrian forces in the ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued state, mainly providing aerial support to ground operations against foreign-backed terrorists.
However, the US has deployed forces and military equipment in Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.
Washington has long been collaborating with anti-Damascus terrorists and stealing Syria’s crude resources, ignoring repeated calls by Damascus to end its occupation of the country.
Currently, about 900 American troops remain stationed in an expanse of northeastern Syria that is controlled by Kurdish militants.