US troops vacate outpost in Syria after artillery fire from Turkey

National News

Turkish and U.S. military forces provide security around their convoy before conducting the second joint ground patrol inside the security mechanism zone in northeast, Syria, Sept. 24, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Goedl)

WASHINGTON (AP/WNCN) — The Pentagon says U.S. troops in Syria came under artillery fire from the Turks on Friday, in an area where Turkey knows Americans are present.

Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, a Pentagon spokesman, says the artillery explosion came near the area where U.S. troops were.

“The explosion occurred within a few hundred meters,” of an area outside the Security Mechanism Zone, a U.S. Defense Department news release said.

DeWalt says no troops were injured and U.S. forces have not withdrawn from Kobani.

Later, however, officials said a number of U.S. troops temporarily left their post on a hill outside the town of Kobane after it came under fire. The officials say a large base in the town has not been affected by the shelling.

Turkey says the U.S. was not the target.

“The United States remains opposed to the Turkish military move into Syria and especially objects to Turkish operations outside the Security Mechanism zone and in areas where the Turks know U.S. forces are present,” the news release said.

DeWalt also warns that Turkey must avoid actions that could result in immediate defensive action by the U.S.

This is the first time a coalition base has been in the line of fire since Turkey’s offensive into Syria began Wednesday.

Meanwhile, top Pentagon officials are denying the U.S. is abandoning its Syrian Kurdish allies in the face of a Turkish military offensive, although the future of a counterterrorism partnership with the Kurds is in grave doubt.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says, “We have not abandoned the Kurds.”

He adds that the U.S. “pushed back very hard at all levels for the Turks not to commence this operation.”

Esper’s remarks appear aimed at strengthening the Trump administration’s argument that it did all it could to stop the Turks and, failing that, was left with no reasonable option but to pull some U.S. troops away from the border.

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