U.S. Intercepts Drone Over Syria; Turkey’s Response Highlights Rising Regional Tensions

For the first time ever, the United States has shot down a Turkish aircraft. But Turkey says that’s not the case at all. Here’s the full story.

Too Close for Comfort

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On October 5, the Pentagon reported that the U.S. military had shot down a Turkish drone that flew too close to American troops stationed in Syria.

Turkey Shrugged It Off

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However, an official from Turkey’s defense ministry said the drone did not belong to the fellow NATO country.

According to that official, Turkey doesn’t know who the craft belonged to.

Things Are Getting Hot

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This news comes on the heels of escalating tensions between Turkey and Syria in recent days.

Attack on Turkish Soil

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Less than a week before the drone incident, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Turkey Strikes Back

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In retaliation, Turkey launched a series of strikes against several Kurdish military targets in Syria.

Not a Bloodless Battle

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According to reports from the Syrian Kurdish forces, those counterstrikes by Turkey have killed eight people so far.

The death toll includes six civilians.

America Needs Turkey

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The situation is especially tricky for the United States, who is counting on Turkey’s support for ratifying Sweden’s attempt to join NATO.

Standing Up for Democracy

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At the same time, the United States has long supported Kurdish forces in northern Syria as they attempt to gain freedom and establish a democracy.

Guilt by Association?

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But Turkey sees the American-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as an offshoot of the PKK.

And the Ankara bombers came from Syria, according to Turkey.

Turkey Sees Them All the Same

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The SDF is a coalition of ethnic militias and rebel groups, led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

Turkey has long made it clear that they consider YPG to be terrorist, right along with PKK.

A Smoking Gun

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Given the geographic location of the two countries, a northbound path for the bombers would likely mean they had to come through Syrian Democratic Forces territory, or from within the group itself.

Not on Our Watch

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For their part, the Syrian Democratic Forces strongly deny that the bombers traveled through their region to reach Turkey.

Must Stop Terrorists

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In the aftermath of the bombings and the counterstrikes, a Turkish official said that their goal was to stop terrorist attacks on their soil. They will use whatever means necessary to accomplish that, he said.

Syrian Invasion on the Table

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One option on the table is a ground operation that would see Turkish forces enter into Syria.

But the official said they were considering other possibilities, as well.

Attack of the Drones

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According to Syrian officials, one of the options Turkey has already unleashed is a drone attack.

They say about 15 Turkish drones entered Syrian airspace late in the week and bombed several key infrastructure sites.

Just a Coincidence?

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Could it have been one of those drones that the U.S. shot down? 

They’re Trying to Work It Out

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The two NATO allies disagree on that point, but U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Yasar Guler, his counterpart in Turkey.

It’ll Take More Than One Call

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Austin reported that the meeting was “fruitful,” but it’s clear the tension is still there.

Not Saying, Just Saying

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Without naming names, a Turkish defense ministry official issued a statement about the ongoing fight with terrorists.

A Clear Warning

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“We are calling on all parties, our friendly and allied countries in particular, to stay away from those terrorists,” he said.

The post U.S. Engages Unidentified Drone Over Syria, Turkey Responds Amid Growing Tensions first appeared on The Public Slate.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Flight Video and Photo. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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