US Forces Confirm Turkey Was Deliberately ‘Bracketing’ American Troops With Artillery Fire in Syria
US Forces Confirm Turkey Was Deliberately ‘Bracketing’ American Troops With Artillery Fire in Syria by Dan Lamothe for Check Point Asia
“The situation was more serious than characterized Friday”
urkish forces who launched multiple artillery rounds near a U.S. Special Operations outpost in northeastern Syria on Friday have known for months that Americans were there, according to four current and former U.S. officials, raising questions whether Turkey is trying to push American troops farther from the border.
The incident occurred on a hilltop base overlooking the town of Kobane as Turkey continues an operation launched Tuesday against Syrian Kurds, some of whom the United States has partnered with for years in its campaign against the Islamic State. The incursion has focused on an area 60 miles to the west of Kobane, but U.S. officials believe Turkey has long-term aspirations to control a much larger swath of Syria.
The rounds landed about 9 p.m. within a few hundred yards of the base on Mistenur Hill, U.S. officials said. Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement that the U.S. troops “came under artillery fire” but were unharmed and that there was an explosion.
“The U.S. demands that Turkey avoid actions that could result in immediate defensive action,” DeWalt said.
In a statement issued Friday, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said its troops had not fired on the Americans and were acting “in self-defense” after one of their border posts was attacked.
But the situation, first reported by Newsweek, was more serious than characterized Friday, several officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.