In a rare moment of NATO-on-NATO violence on Thursday, a US fighter jet shot down a Turkish drone near a US military installation in Syria.
The incident happened near the town of al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria – a part of the country controlled by Turkish forces and US-backed Kurdish terrorist groups, which are themselves rival forces.
According to Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Turkish drone was conducting airstrikes against Kurdish forces when it approached a US base that houses some 900 troops.
After multiple warnings to turn away, an F-16 Falcon multi-role fighter aircraft that had been scrambled shot down the drone.
So far, Turkish Defense Ministry figures have denied the US claim when asked by Turkish media, which some observers have noted may be an indication the drone was operated by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Turkiye’s spy agency.
However, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters he had a fruitful call with his Turkish counterpart, Yasar Guler on Thursday afternoon.
A spokesperson for the Kurdish militias, which call themselves the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), confirmed to US media the Turkish drone had been shot down.
Turkish forces have been occupying parts of northern Syria for more than half a decade, intervening in the Syrian Civil War in support of al-Qaeda-aligned militias that sought the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
However, Ankara also launched a major operation in 2019 to clear a border area in northeastern Syria of Kurds, claiming the SDF was aiding Kurdish communist groups inside of Turkiye that have been declared terrorist organizations.
As the SDF was already aligned with Washington at the time, it created a potentially explosive situation. Neither Turkish nor US troops have permission from the Syrian government in Damascus to be inside of Syria.
US forces have been observed for years to be transporting the region’s petroleum out of the country and into Iraq by truck – a practice long denied by the US government and media until then-US President Donald Trump boasted about how the US kept the oil after intervening in Syria to fight ISIS in 2017.
Sputnik / ABC Flash point News 2023.