Turkish artillery struck a US outpost near the town of Kobane in northern Syria on Friday, wounding one and prompting U.S. military officials to warn Turkey that they have a right to self-defense.
The incident happened on the fourth day of Turkey’s military offensive against the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main fighting body comprises of Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG).
According to Pentagon, the explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of an area where US forces are known by the Turks to be present.
Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence said its forces had retaliated to harassment fire that came from near the U.S. base.
“Everyone is fully aware that we are the United States military. We retain the right of self-defense,” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), at least 54 fighters with the SDF, 2 Turkish soldiers, 42 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and 17 civilians had been killed.
The Turkish troops and Syrian rebels reportedly have seized Ras al-Ain, and fighting for the encirclement of Tel Abyad carries on with several villages in Turkish hands.
Mortar and rocket attacks in the Turkish border towns of Suruc and Nusaybin killed ten people while wounding 38, Turkish authorities said on Friday.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly car bomb in Qamishli, the largest city under the Kurdish control in Syria where five Islamic State fighters fled a jail, according to the SDF.
Ankara wants to establish a “safe zone” inside Syria, where it can relocate millions of refugees present in the country. Erdogan threatened open borders for refugees to flee Europe, if the European Union did not endorse Turkish incursion, prompting a backlash from the EU.
“We will never accept that refugees are weaponized and used to blackmail us,” European Council President Donald Tusk posted on Twitter.
Turkey must understand that our main concern is that their actions may lead to another humanitarian catastrophe. And we will never accept that refugees are weaponised and used to blackmail us. President Erdogan’s threats of yesterday are totally out of place.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 11, 2019
Some 100,000 people have fled their homes in north Syria, the UN reports.
Democrat and Republican representatives of the US Congress introduced a bill that would sanction Turkish officials involved in the Syria operation and banks involved with Turkey’s defense sector until Turkey halts military actions in Syria.
The bill also would require the administration to impose existing sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.
“We will not stop it no matter what anyone says,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.