WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Thursday the U.S. military shot down an armed Turkish drone that came within 500 meters (yards) of American troops in northeastern Syria, in a rare use of force by one NATO member against another.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, called it a “regrettable incident” and said U.S. troops were forced to go to bunkers for safety as Turkey bombed targets nearby.
Both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the new Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. CQ Brown, spoke with their Turkish counterparts quickly after the incident to emphasize the value they place on their relationship with Turkey — but also the need to avoid any similar incidents in the future and ensure the safety of U.S. personnel.
The decision to shoot down an ally's armed drone “was made out of due diligence and the inherent right of self-defense to take appropriate action to protect U.S. forces,” Ryder said, adding that “we have no indication that Turkey was intentionally targeting U.S. forces.”
U.S. officials earlier told The Associated Press the shootdown was ordered after more than a dozen calls to Turkish military officials stating that U.S. forces were on the ground in the area and that the U.S. military would take action to protect them if the drone didn't leave. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of a sensitive military incident.
Ryder said U.S. forces observed Turkish drones…