US shoots down armed Turkish drone after it came too close to US troops in Syria

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 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.”

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