Blinken speaks to Turkish Foreign Minister as tension flares in northern Syria

US shot down Turkish drone this week

A fire at the Zarba oil facility in north-eastern Syria close to the Turkish border. AFP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on Friday, the State Department said.

They discussed the US and Turkey's “common objective of defeating terrorist threats”, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

There is heightened tension between the two Nato members.

Turkey has carried out a series of air strikes against Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria in response to a suicide attack on the Interior Ministry in Ankara on Sunday that injured two police officers.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Friday, Turkey launched 30 strikes in northern Syria. They were aimed at energy infrastructure in Kurdish-administered parts of Syria, including “an oil well, a storage facility and shelters”, Ankara said.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said they had killed five Turkish troops in response to Turkey’s strikes. Turkey denied the claim.

“The United States remains concerned about military activity in northern Syria, and in particular its impact on the civilian population, including the targeting of civilian infrastructure, and the effectiveness of our operations to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS,” a State Department representative told The National.

'Our position has not changed: we continue to support the maintenance of the current ceasefire lines. It is crucial for all sides to maintain and respect ceasefire zones to enhance stability in Syria and work towards a political solution to the conflict.”

US Central Command issued a statement condemning “unco-ordinated” air strikes and said it reserved the right to self-defence.

On Thursday, the US shot down an armed Turkish drone in northern Syria, after it deemed it to be a threat, the Pentagon said.

Washington supports Ankara’s efforts against the PKK, which the US has listed as a foreign terrorist organisation. But the US also supports the SDF, which is primarily made up of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the PKK.

The US views the SDF as an important element in the international effort to combat ISIS.

In his call with Mr Fidan, Mr Blinken “highlighted the need to co-ordinate and deconflict” US and Turkish activities in the region.

Michael McCaul, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was “imperative that the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS be able to focus on its vital mission”.

“I strongly discourage any actions which would detract or distract from that mission, including those which could threaten American troops,” he said

Updated: October 07, 2023, 3:49 AM