In an effort to ease mounting tensions in northeast Syria, the United States and Turkey engaged in high-level discussions on Friday. The talks followed an incident where a US fighter jet shot down a Turkish combat drone that had been targeting Kurdish forces supported by the United States. The Pentagon cited the drone’s proximity to US troops, considering it a threat.
Tensions escalated after a suicide bombing in Ankara last Sunday attributed to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with Turkey asserting that the attackers had come from Syria. Consequently, Turkey viewed Kurdish assets in northeast Syria as legitimate military targets.
Turkey subsequently conducted a series of airstrikes on oil facilities and other infrastructure in Syria controlled by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia primarily backed by the US. Turkey contends that the YPG is an offshoot of the PKK. While many Western nations classify the PKK as a terrorist organization, they do not apply the same label to the YPG.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the YPG, played a key role in ousting ISIS militants from the region in 2019. However, US support for these fighters has strained relations between Ankara and Washington. The Turkish presidency criticized foreign support for the YPG as a significant error.
Despite the downing of the Turkish drone, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan informed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Ankara would persist with its operations in Syria with determination. The two officials reached an agreement on measures to de-escalate future conflicts in the region.
Meanwhile, Turkey continued its series of attacks on Kurdish targets on Friday. The military reported 26 Kurdish militants killed in northern Syria overnight and the destruction of 30 militant targets elsewhere in northern Syria, including an oil well, a storage facility, and shelters.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry declared its commitment to systematically dismantling all capabilities and revenue sources of the terrorist organization in Syria. In Turkey, two PKK militants were killed in a clash with commandos in the eastern Agri province during an operation supported by combat drones and attack helicopters, according to Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya.
Source: Arab News