U.S. troops caught in Turkish shelling
An explosion occurred near a U.S. military outpost in northern Syria on Friday, but no U.S. personnel were injured, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed U.S. official.
The official said the incident happened at U.S. base near Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-controlled Kobani.
Newsweek was the first to report the incident. It said that U.S. troops in Kobani had been caught up in Turkey’s shelling.
The news came hours after Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a news briefing at Pentagon that Turkey was informed about the positions of all U.S. troops in Syria.
“The Turkish military is fully aware - down to explicit grid coordinate detail - of the locations of U.S. forces,” Milley said.
Turkey deliberately shelled the area to drive U.S. forces out, said Josie Ensor, a reporter for Telegraph, citing a U.S. official.
Coalition official tells me after Turkish bombing near US base Mashtenour hill: “They know we are there, we told them our position. There’s no other target in the area. They’re trying to drive us out. If Turkey can get us to leave so they can seige Kobane, it’s all over.”— Josie Ensor (@Josiensor) October 11, 2019
One of the co-authors of the Newsweek piece said one shell landed dangerously close to the position of U.S. troops.
On our #BREAKING scoop. Artillery shelling from #Turkey was so heavy that U.S. personnel considered firing back in self-defense. 1 shell landed 225 meters from the OP (Danger Close) US Forces withdrew once the shelling stopped. #Syria #Trump #Military https://t.co/AyVPNxQM91— James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) October 11, 2019
Following the reports, Turkey's Ministry of Defence said they shelled the position in self-defence to artillery fires but they did not hit any U.S. positions.
"Before the shelling, all kinds of measures were taken to prevent damage to the U.S. base. As a result of the transmission of the issue to us by the United States, the fires were ceased as a precaution. There is absolutely no hitting of the U.S. or the Coalition forces," the defence ministry statement said.
However, the former U.S. Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk also echoed U.S. officials' statements, saying that the U.S. base was targetted and the incident was not a mistake.
Turkish forces have fired on a declared U.S. military outpost in northern Syria. Turkey knows all of our locations down to the precise grid coordinate as confirmed by SECDEF and CJCS only two hours ago. This was not a mistake.— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 11, 2019
"We will take a look at it," U.S. President Donald Trump said when he was asked whether the United States would impose sanctions on Turkey after the pounding of the U.S. base.
Turkey has launched the operation saying it will set up a safe zone stretching along its border inside Syria to rid the area of Kurdish fighters that it labels terrorists, and to resettle Syrian refugees. The offensive began after Trump gave Erdoğan permission in a phone call on Sunday.