US F-16 warplanes intercepted and shot down a Turkish drone over northeast Syria, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
The drone, which belonged to NATO ally Turkey, was perceived as a potential threat to American forces stationed in Syria, the Pentagon said, prompting numerous questions about relations between the supposed allies.
There were reports earlier in the day about the incident, but the whole thing was mere speculation.
The Wall Street Journal said earlier that a US fighter shot down a Turkish UAV flying overhead in Turkey.
But the Turkish Defense Ministry has denied that the drone was one of its own, according to US media reports.
The encounter took place amidst heightened tensions in the area as Turkey carried out airstrikes against Kurdish forces responding to a suicide bombing in Ankara earlier in the week, which was claimed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
It is worth noting that Turkish forces occasionally target areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern and northeastern Syria.
The PKK has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters that US military personnel had observed drones conducting airstrikes in northeast Syria, some of them within a “restricted operating zone” (ROZ) near Hasakah.
The ROZ in question was situated approximately one kilometer (less than a mile) from US troops who were part of the international coalition fighting against the Islamic State (IS) group.