WASHINGTON — Turkish drones conducted multiple strikes within a kilometer of a US base in northeast Syria on Thursday, causing US troops to take shelter in bunkers in the hours before an American commander ordered one of the unmanned aircraft to be shot down, the Pentagon said.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder described the shoot-down — the first of its kind between the two NATO allies — as a “regrettable incident” carried out in self-defense. He said that a subsequent phone call between the Turkish and US defense chiefs and and an after-action review determined no evidence of hostile intent by the Turkish forces towards US troops.
“US commanders on the ground did assess that there was a potential threat, and so they took prudent action,” Ryder said, before describing the call between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Turkish counterpart Yasar Guler as “fruitful.”
“We will continue to keep those lines of communication open to hopefully prevent these types of incidents from happening,” he added. “Turkey does remain a very important and valuable NATO ally to the United States.”