Syria regime claims it blocked US convoy in Qamishli, in latest ratcheting of tensions
Syrian forces intercepted US troops in the Tal Sateh area, eastern Qamishli, SANA said on Wednesday, which follows previous attempts by the regime to intercept international coalition movements.
The US is part of an international force aiding counter-insurgency operations against the Islamic State group.
"Syrian Arab Army Personnel intercepted ON Wednesday a US occupation forces’ convoy in Tal Sateh area eastern countryside of Qamishli , forced it to retreat," SANA reported.
"Syrian Arab army soldiers pledged to intercept any vehicle or convoy of the US occupier on the Syrian territory."
Pro-Assad and Russian forces have attempted to block US forces before and regime intelligence agents have also been accused of posing as civilians and attacking American convoys with rocks.
Ruslan Trad, from the Atlantic Council's DFRLab, said that although these claims do not receive much attention outside pro-regime circles and are intended to send out a signal to the US and Syrians.
"The Syrian regime tries to use attempts to block US forces a reinforcement of its image. Such events have mostly propaganda purposes and are presented as victories to local audiences," Trad told The New Arab.
"[This] time it was successful and the convoy was blocked, largely because of the unwillingness of the US command to escalate the situation."
The US-led international coalition dismissed the Syrian regime's claims in a statement to The New Arab.
"These claims from SANA are completely false. Coalition personnel conducted
patrols with our SDF partners Wednesday and did not encounter nor were they
intercepted by Syrian Arab Army soldiers," said coalition spokesperson Gina "Flash" McKeen.
"Our Coalition forces will continue working with our partner forces in their efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and to promote the safety and security of NE Syria and its civilian population."
US forces have been present in northern Syria since 2015, aiding a Kurdish-led fightback against the Islamic State group.
Currently around 500 troops are in Kurdish-controlled areas, providing support and training to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in suppressing IS group activities.
The Syrian regime views the US deployment as an occupation of their land and threatened force to remove this presence with the occasional violent clashes between the two sides.
The most serious incident occurred in 2018 when US and Kurdish forces reportedly killed over 100 pro-regime militia fighters and Russian mercenaries in northern Syria.
Former President Donald Trump had repeatedly threatened to withdraw US troops out of Syria, which would likely see Kurdish-controlled areas carved up by Turkey and the Syrian regime.