Jan 25 2018

Turkey fires shell at U.S.-supported Manbij

In the midst of a low in bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States, Turkey shot a shell into territory where U.S. forces are present, the New York Times said.

“In Syria, a Turkish warplane launched a shell that fell near the northern city of Manbij, where United States troops have been training and equipping Kurdish forces that are holding the strategic city,” it said.

“American officials are increasingly worried that a wide-scale attack on Manbij would bring troops from the United States and Turkey into direct conflict.”

The report quoted a spokesman for the Manbij Military Council as saying that the shell did not hit anything and that in general the frontlines there were quiet.

Tensions remain high between the two countries, the New York Times said.

“They accelerated after a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey led (President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan to tighten his grip on the nation and ramp up rhetorical attacks on the United States and Europe. The Turkish government said the coup was led by Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric who is living in exile in the United States.”

Wednesday’s phone call from U.S. President Donald Trump to Erdoğan also marked a negative turn in U.S. attitudes to Turkey.

“The shift in tone at the White House grew out of what officials described on Wednesday as frustration over months of failed efforts to mollify Mr. Erdoğan, including changes in military strategy and reassurances about Kurdish intentions on the battlefield,” it said.

“And it marked the end of a year of wooing of Mr. Erdoğan, whom Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised despite the Turkish leader’s authoritarian crackdown at home.”