Officials say that after over a dozen warnings, the United States military shot down a Turkish drone on Thursday when it got too close to American forces in Hasakah, Syria.
After more than a dozen phone conversations with Turkish military officials, the official said the drone was ordered to be shot down because American forces were present and would resort to self-defense if the drone did not leave the area.
The second official commented that the drone was flying “unsafely.”
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the United States Department of Defense, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, confirmed that the United States had shot down the drone in self-defense.
The United States and Turkey are NATO members whose forces frequently coordinate air exercises, so the drone’s actions raised eyebrows. Roughly 900 American soldiers are currently stationed in Syria to fight extremists from the Islamic State organization.
After a suicide attack near Turkey’s interior ministry office earlier this week, Turkey escalated airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, targeting Kurdish militant organizations.
During a press conference following the incident, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan revealed that the two people involved in the suicide bombing — one who detonated and the other who was shot — were trained in Syria.
Turkey has decided to attack PKK and YPG bases in Syria and Iraq. The YPG is a Kurdish military group operating inside Syria and associated with the PKK.
U.S. authorities have accused their Turkish counterparts of holding up the approval of dozens of new F-16 fighter jets and modification kits for Turkey’s current fleet.
U.S. politicians have attacked Turkey’s record on human rights and its delays in agreeing to Swedish participation in NATO, even though the two nations are NATO allies.
The failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 is another point of contention between the two countries. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused the United States of aiding the coup.
While the United States denies the allegations, it also has not agreed to extradite Fetullah Gulen, the leader of the group the Turkish president said was behind the attempted coup and currently resides in exile in Pennsylvania.