US Shoots Down Ally’s Drone Over Syria

(Photo by BIROL BEBEK/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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A U.S. F-16 fighter jet shot down a drone operated by a NATO ally on Thursday after the flying weapon appeared to threaten American troops operating nearby in northeastern Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The action was taken to protect American troops and with understanding that the armed drone belonged to Turkey, which is considered a U.S. ally but has repeatedly clashed with America’s Kurdish partner forces in Syria, the WSJ reported, citing a U.S. official. However, a Turkish defense ministry official has denied controlling the drone but did not say what military was operating it, Reuters reported.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had a “very productive” call with his Turkish counterpart on Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a regular briefing. (RELATED: NATO To Add New Member After Close US Ally Previously Blocked Expansion)

Ryder said there is “no indication Turkey was targeting U.S. forces” and no American troops were injured.

The U.S. has roughly 900 soldiers and airmen based in Syria to train and support the Kurdish-led fight against the Islamic State. U.S.-allied Kurdish forces blamed Turkey for air strikes killing eight people on military posts Thursday, Reuters reported. Turkey launched the strikes in response to a terrorist attack in Ankara Sunday; Turkey said the two attackers who set off a bomb near government buildings originated from Syria.

However, the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is run by the Kurdish YPG and partnered with the U.S., has denied involvement, according to Reuters. A site affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization in many countries including the U.S., claimed the PKK was responsible.

Still, U.S. support for Kurdish forces has angered Turkey, according to Reuters. The shoot-down will likely add to a list of grievances between the U.S. and its NATO ally, including blocking Turkey’s access to U.S.-made advanced F-35 fighter jets and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodogan’s somewhat friendly associations with Moscow, according to the WSJ.

U.S. Central Command did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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