Pentagon: Turkish airstrikes in Syria directly threatened the U.S. personnel
Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria threatened the safety of U.S. military personnel and the escalating situation jeopardized years of progress against Islamic State militants, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, which marks the strongest condemnation by the United States of NATO-ally Turkey's air operations in recent days against Kurdish militants in northern Syria
"Recent air strikes in Syria directly threatened the safety of U.S. personnel who are working in Syria with local partners to defeat ISIS and maintain custody of more than ten thousand ISIS detainees," the Pentagon's spokesman, Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder, said in a statement.
Ryder said the escalating situation threatened the progress made in the fight against Islamic State militants in the region.
"Immediate de-escalation is necessary in order to maintain focus on the defeat-ISIS mission and ensure the safety and security of personnel on the ground committed to the defeat-ISIS mission," Ryder added.
UK based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Tuesday that a Turkish drone carried out an attack north of Al-Hasakah on a base of the US-led International Coalition, which also houses counter-terrorism units of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF.)
SDF Commander Mazloum Abdi said in an interview that the building hit by a Turkish drone was 500 meters away from the base of US troops.
“I don’t think the Americans knew that this attack was going to take place. We can say the attack took place despite their presence there,” Abdi said.
On Wednesday, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley spoke to his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Yasar Guler. The readout did not offer details of the conversation, but it said that the two spoke about “several items of mutual strategic interest.”
The United States has roughly 900 soldiers in Syria, mainly in the northeast of the country, who work with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is led by Kurdish fighters from the YPG, to fight against Islamic State remnants.