US shoots down Turkish drone over Syria after attacks near Hasakah

The Pentagon says United States warplanes have shot down a Turkish drone, which was deemed a threat to its forces in Syria, in an incident that might raise tensions between the NATO allies.

The development came on Thursday as Turkey targeted Kurdish forces in Syria following a suicide bombing in Ankara that was claimed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).US troops observed drones carrying out raids on Thursday morning, some of them inside a “restricted operating zone” (ROZ) near Hasakah, about a kilometre (less than a mile) from Washington’s troops, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder told journalists.

A few hours later, a Turkish drone returned to the ROZ and flew towards American forces despite what a US official said were a dozen calls to Ankara’s military.

Ryder said “US commanders assessed … the UAV, which was now less than a half kilometre from US forces, to be a potential threat,” using an abbreviation for an unmanned aerial vehicle.

“US F-16 fighters subsequently shot down the UAV in self-defence,” he said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Guler on Thursday, urging “de-escalation in northern Syria and the importance of maintaining strict adherence to de-confliction protocols and communication through established military-to-military channels,” Ryder said in a statement.

Turkey’s defence ministry confirmed the call, saying the two officials discussed “the latest developments in Syria”.“It is not only the Turkish military that conducts counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq and Syria,” she said.

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