Updated Sept. 16, 2017 7:10 p.m. ET
Russian military forces on Saturday attacked a
location in Syria where they knew troops from the U.S.-led
coalition and allied Syrian rebels were operating, the U.S.
The strike injured several Syrian Democratic Forces troops but
didnt wound any members of the U.S.-led coalition, according to the
statement from the Combined Joint Task ForceOperation Inherent
Resolve, after the Russian forces hit a target east of the
Euphrates River near Deir Ezzour.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian
Defense Ministry, said such an incident wasnt possible but didnt
American and Russian forces have an open communications line to
discuss operations that could overlap, especially air operations,
to prevent midair collisions or the targeting of troops
incorrectly. The communications line apparently wasnt used in this
Coalition officials are available and the deconfliction line
with Russia is open 24 hours per day, said the top-ranking American
officer in the coalition, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, in the statement
The coalition didnt respond to requests to clarify whether the
attack was an airstrike and provided no further details on the
The statement didnt say whether the coalition troops threatened
to fire at the Russian forces, but it reiterated that coalition
forces and partners always retain the right of self-defense.
Russia has recently stepped up its military efforts in Deir
Ezzour where Islamic State still has a stronghold. The
Russians have taken journalists on one of their Navy frigates to
watch the launch of cruise missiles into Deir Ezzour as a public
demonstration of their capabilities and as a rebuke to U.S.-led
coalition forces, who Russians say arent doing enough.
Russian forces have also ramped up their air campaign, sending
more sorties into Syria to bomb Islamic State-held areas and to
show their support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad. That has
included actions against moderate groups opposed to Mr. Assad, not
just Islamic State.