A U.S. commander suggested the United States may retaliate against Syrian and Russian artillery and airpower if they continue to strike in areas where American special operation forces are located.

"We've informed the Russians where we're at ... [they] tell us they've informed the Syrians, and I'd just say that we will defend ourselves if we feel threatened," Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the U.S. commander of American troops in Iraq and Syria, said in an interview with CNN.

Townsend, who took command this week, is the first member of the United States Armed Services to speak openly about using force against the Syrian Air Force.

He "made the remarks following what defense officials described as an 'unusual' incident Thursday in northern Syria in which the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used warplanes to attack an area near where U.S. special operations forces were operating in support of Kurdish forces, which are the Americans' key ally in the conflict," CNN reported.

"Several U.S. troops had to be quickly moved, and U.S. jet patrols over northern Syria have been beefed up," the report added.