A US F-16 fighter jet shot down an armed Turkish drone on Thursday operating too close to American troops in Hasakah, Syria, according to US defence officials.
The Independent has contacted the Pentagon for comment.
A US official told Reuters the military called its Turkish counterparts to warn them multiple times it might take out the drone.
The drone was flying in an “unsafe” and “unsynchronised” manner near US forces, an American official told The Associated Press, and US officials made more than a dozen warnings calls before ordering the strike.
The two countries, NATO allies, typically coordinate air operations when sharing a fighting theatre.
The drone was armed with air-to-ground munitions, according to the The Wall Street Journal
A Turkish defence official told the paper the drone doesn’t belong to the country, but didn’t say whose aircraft it was.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to speak with Turkish officials in the coming days, according to the Journal.
“For the Turkish UAVs, we confirm that one UAV was shot down, but we currently do not possess sufficient information to provide further details,” a spokesperson for the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces told Al-Monitor.
The craft was downed near the town of Tell Beder, in the Kurdish-led autonomous region of northeastern Syria.
“If the coalition did shoot it down, it was to warn Turkey that it had gone too far and was imperiling their forces,” Salih Muslim, of the territory’s Democratic Unity Party, added in an an interview with the outlet.
The drone affair adds tension to the already complicated relationship between the US and Turkey in Syria.
The US supports Kurdish forces in northern Syria, which Turkey views as a wing of its outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a group that claimed responsibility for a recent bomb attack on government buildings in Ankara.
The Turkish government has pursued retaliatory strikes, killing at least eight people in drone attacks in Kurdish-held zones of northeast Syria, Reuters reports.
The US and Turkey have also sparred over Turkey’s delays in approving Sweden’s bid to join NATO, and potential US sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
About 900 US troops are stationed in Syria as part of the campaign against the Islamic State.
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