US warplanes shot down a Turkish drone over Syria, citing it as a threat to American forces in the region, as reported by the Pentagon.
This event has the potential to escalate tensions between the United States and Turkey, who are NATO allies.
The incident occurred as Turkey was targeting Kurdish forces in Syria in response to a suicide bombing in Ankara, which was claimed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
According to Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder, US troops had observed drones conducting strikes in a "restricted operating zone" near Hasakeh, located less than a mile from American forces.
Subsequently, a Turkish drone re-entered this zone and approached US forces, despite a reported dozen attempts to contact Ankara's military.
At this point, US commanders assessed the Turkish unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to be a potential threat, as it was less than half a kilometer away from American troops. In self-defense, US F-16 fighters shot down the drone.
Following the incident, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had a conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Yasar Guler, in which he emphasized the need for de-escalation in northern Syria and maintaining adherence to de-confliction protocols and military-to-military communication channels.
Turkey's defense ministry confirmed the call and mentioned that the two officials discussed the latest developments in Syria.
The United States has approximately 900 troops deployed in Syria as part of international efforts to combat the Islamic State (IS) group.
These troops often conduct raids targeting IS militants. US forces are closely allied with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which played a key role in driving IS fighters out of Syria in 2019.
However, tensions exist between the US and Turkey due to Turkey's perception of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, which dominate the SDF, as an offshoot of the PKK. The PKK is a group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.
Turkey has previously carried out drone attacks in the Kurdish region of northeast Syria and warned of more cross-border air raids following the Ankara bombing, which it attributed to militants from that region.
These Turkish strikes on military and infrastructure targets in Kurdish-held areas of Syria resulted in casualties, according to Kurdish security forces.
Syria remains a complex and volatile region with multiple forces, including those from the Syrian government, Russia, the United States, Turkey, Iran-linked groups, Kurds, and various jihadist organizations, operating on the ground and in the air. .
In the past, Turkey has shot down both Syrian and Russian planes, while the United States has accused Russian forces of harassing its aircraft over Syria. Incidents of this nature have heightened tensions and the potential for further conflict in the region.