Turkish Warplanes Strike US-Allied Kurds in Syria

After Washington shot down a Turkish drone, Ankara bombed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria

The conflict between US allies continued to escalate when a Turkish warplane bombed sites used by Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. Ankara and Washington are members of the North Atlantic alliance, and the Syrian Kurds have acted as America’s proxy force for several years. The strikes followed the US shooting down a Turkish drone in Syria that Washington says threatened American troops.

On Friday, the Turkish military reported hitting 30 targets in Syria. The statement said the sites were used by the PKK, a militia of Kurds from Turkey. Ankara labels the PKK as a terrorist group. Two members of the group targeted the Turkish Interior Ministry this week. Only the attackers were killed, one died after detonating a suicide bomb.

The strikes followed the US shooting down a Turkish drone in Syria. The Department of Defense said that some American soldiers were forced to take cover. On Thursday, Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said the decision to shoot down the drone “was made out of due diligence and the inherent right of self-defense to take appropriate action to protect US forces.”

Ankara downplayed the incident and said it was due to a miscommunication in the “deconflicting mechanism.” Ryder explained the Pentagon does not believe Turkey was targeting American soldiers.

Within Syria, the PKK is closely aligned with the YPG. The YPG is a Kurdish militia backed by the US. Under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the YPG rules the portion of Syria that is occupied by US troops.

Ankara has launched several protests against Washington’s support for the YPG, which Turkey labels as a terror group that aids the PKK. American troops have armed and trained the Kurdish militia to fight against the Islamic State. However, since IS has lost its territory in Syria, the YPG has started to clash with Arabs who live in the Kurdish-controlled territory.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.