US: Downing Turkey's Drone 'Regrettable'

Pentagon says armed drone came close to American troops in Syria
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2023 6:35 PM CDT
US Fighter Shoots Down Turkish Drone Over Syria
Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Pentagon officials said several warnings were issued before a US fighter jet shot down an armed drone belonging to Turkey on Thursday. The drone was flying close to American ground forces in northeast Syria, US officials said. Fearing the downing will increase the already rising tensions between the two nations, the US immediately moved to smooth relations with Turkey, the Wall Street Journal reports. "It's regrettable when you have two NATO allies and there's an incident like this," Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters, per CBS News.

Pentagon officials saw no indication Turkey was targeting US troops. But they point out that the drone came within 500 yards of the forces and ignored repeated warnings. Several drones were flying in an area designated for US operations, the officials said, before all left after the warnings. One of the drones returned, the US said, which is when the F-16 shot it down. Ryder said American troops fled to bunkers while Turkey bombed nearby targets, per the AP.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. CQ Brown, the new Joint Chiefs chairman, called their counterparts in Turkey later Thursday to talk about avoiding a similar situation in the future. The US needs Turkey's support on a series of matters, including Sweden's bid to join NATO, terrorist threats in the Middle East, and diplomacy involving Ukraine. About 900 US troops are stationed in Syria, cooperating with Kurdish-led fighters against the Islamic State. Given the situation Thursday, Ryder said, US forces took "prudent action." (More Pentagon stories.)

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