All seven soldiers sustained “minor concussion-like injuries and muscle strain consistent with vehicle collisions,” Urban said. All have returned to work.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman also blamed Russian forces for violating the deconfliction agreement and injuring members of the US service with “deliberately provocative and aggressive behavior.”
“We informed the Russians that their behavior was dangerous and unacceptable,” Hoffman said. “We expect a return to routine and professional deconfliction in Syria and we reserve the right to vigorously defend our forces whenever their security is endangered. “
Videos of the meeting between Russian armored vehicles and the coalition were released on social media on Wednesday.
US military statements, which came two days after the incident, contrast sharply with Russian accounts. During a phone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, Russian Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov blamed US forces for the incident, saying US troops attempted to block a Russian patrol “in violation of existing agreements,” according to a Facebook post early Thursday from the Russian embassy.
During the conversation, Gerasimov told Milley that the coalition commanders had been informed in advance of the passage of the Russian military through the region, according to the post.
Gerasimov accused the US military of violating existing agreements and informed Milley that US military had attempted to block the Russian patrol, which “had taken all necessary measures to prevent the incident and continue its mission.”
A Pentagon spokesperson said on Wednesday that Milley spoke to his Russian counterpart, but did not disclose the details of the conversation.
In a statement, National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot condemned the Russian actions as “dangerous and unprofessional” and said they “represented a violation of the deconfliction protocols, committed by the United States. and Russia in December 2019 ”.
“The Coalition and the United States are not seeking escalation with national military forces, but the United States forces still retain the inherent right and obligation to defend against hostile acts,” Ullyot said.
U.S. lawmakers criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the incident on Wednesday. Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democratic member of the Armed Services Committee, called on the president to “denounce Vladimir Putin and demand answers on why his troops are harassing and injuring our troops in Syria”.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, a group of House lawmakers urged the Pentagon and White House to “communicate clearly to the highest levels of the Russian government and military that actions like this will not be tolerated.” .