Explosion reported near US outpost in Syria, amid speculation Turkey accidentally shells US special forces
No US personnel were injured in Friday’s blast and the cause of the explosion is unclear, Reuters stated, citing an unnamed US official. The information on the apparent explosion coincided with a Newsweek report that Turkish forces allegedly shelled American special ops in the same area. According to the report, the shelling was accidental, as Turkish artillery targeted Kurdish fighters positioned there.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Ministry said that "all measures" were taken not to hit the US base while its troops were responding to "harassment fire" originating from near the installation. A US official later told Reuters that reports its service members were attacked are "not accurate."
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said that the Turkish military is “fully aware down to explicit grid coordinate detail, of the locations of US forces.”
Earlier this week, Turkey launched a military offensive in Northern Syria against Kurdish forces it considers terrorists. Meanwhile, the Kurds are Washington’s allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and US President Donald Trump has been criticized for “abandoning” them by withdrawing US troops.
Trump has deflected the criticism threatening to “hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions” if Ankara refuses to show restraint. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that his campaign against the Kurds will continue “no matter what anyone says.” He stressed the mission is aimed only at “terrorists” and not at Kurds who are Turkey’s “brothers.”
Both General Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper repeated calls on Turkey to halt its offensive on Friday, yet Milley told reporters that based on his conversations with counterparts in the Turkish military, he has “not seen any indication or warnings” that the offense will cease.
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