Turkish-backed forces reached “very close” to U.S. troops in Syria just west of a coalition base within the northern Syrian town of Ain Issa Tuesday so close that American jets and attack helicopters have been called in to disrupt the approaching forces, a U.S official tells News channel.
The Turkish-backed fighters “violated a standing agreement with the U.S. not to get close enough to threaten U.S. troops,” the official stated.
Air Force F-15 fighters and Army Apache attack helicopters arrived on the scene. The Apache hovered between the U.S. troops and the approaching forces, just feet off the ground.
The U.S. military lodged a formal complaint with the Turkish army after the incident by diplomatic channels. The American Special Operations forces have been partnered with Syrian Kurdish allies through the encounter, which took place a couple of hours ago, the official added.
Based on U.S. Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, based in Baghdad: “As Turkish-backed militias advanced towards the Lafarge Cement Factory, between Kobanî and Ain Issa, on Tuesday, Oct. 15, the SDF set fire to, then vacated, its facilities and equipment. The location had been the headquarters of the de facto Defeat-ISIS coalition in Syria. No U.S. forces or equipment have been ever in jeopardy and stay within separate, secure facilities. Our precedence is protecting the remaining Coalition forces on the LCF as several forces converge in northeast Syria. Coalition forces are executing a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria.”
The Turkish military considers the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the leading U.S. ally against ISIS, as terrorists linked to a decades-old insurgency in Turkey, which has killed tens of thousands of individuals since the mid-80s.
The United Nations has said that as many as 160,000 people, including 70,000 children, have been displaced since the fighting in northeast Syria escalated almost a week ago.