By Arab News
The US and Turkiye held high-level talks on Friday to de-escalate growing tension in northeast Syria between the two NATO allies.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken a day after a US fighter jet shot down a Turkish combat drone that was targeting Kurdish forces backed by Washington. The Pentagon said the drone had been less than 500 meters from US troops, and was deemed a threat.
Tension has soared since a suicide bomb attack in Ankara last Sunday by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. Turkiye said the two bombers came from Syria, and that Kurdish assets in northeast Syria were therefore legitimate military targets.
Ankara launched a wave of airstrikes on oil facilities and other infrastructure in Syria controlled by the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a Kurdish militia that is the main component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. Turkiye says the YPG is an offshoot of the PKK. Most Western countries designate the PKK as terrorists, but not the YPG.
The Syrian Democratic Forces led the battle to dislodge Daesh militants from the region in 2019, and USsupport for its fighters has strained Ankara’s ties with Washington ever since. The Turkish presidency said on Friday that foreign support for the YPG was “a colossal folly.”
Fidan told Blinken on Friday that despite the downing of the Turkish drone, Ankara’s operations in Syria would “continue with determination,” a Turkish diplomatic source said. The two men reached an agreement on ways to de-escalate future conflicts in the region, the source said.
Meanwhile Turkiye continued its wave of attacks on Kurdish targets on Friday. The military said they had killed 26 Kurdish militants in northern Syria overnight, and destroyed 30 militant targets elsewhere in northern Syria, including an oil well, a storage facility and shelters.
“All the capabilities and revenue sources developed by the terrorist organization in Syria will continue to be destroyed in a systematic way,” the Foreign Ministry said.
In Turkey, two PKK militants were killed in eastern Agri province in a clash with commandos during an operation with combat drone and attack helicopter support, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said.