Two anonymous Pentagon sources stated that U.S. troops embedded with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were fired upon from positions inside Turkey. U.S. Marines reported that they had established several control points in the Kurd-controlled town of Tel Abyad, a town on the border with Turkey. As soon as U.S. special operations forces raised the American flag on these control points, they came under direct fire from inside Turkey. A Pentagon source added that there were no casualties and the U.S. troops had since located elsewhere.
Pro Turkish government media accused the Kurdish forces (YPG) of hoisting the American flag as a shield against another Turkish offensive to thwart their plans for autonomy. Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, stated that this is the first he has heard of the incident and called on its partners in the region (YPG) not to fly the American flag on their own in a press briefing.
Kurdish forces have come under increased attacks from the Turkish army and coupled with the fighting with Islamic State and Assad’s Syrian forces, the Kurds are getting sandwiched in between these factions. In the town of Jarabulus, the Kurds are finding it extremely difficult to unite their two subdivisions of Kobani and Afrin into one unit due to the Turkish campaign in northern Syria.
Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, took to Twitter with the following:
“Initial reports indicate US Special Ops forces in Tel Abyad, Syria put up US flag to show identity as they came under fire, US officials.”
Since October of last year, there have been approximately 300 U.S. special operations forces embedded with the Kurdish YPG who are in training and advisory roles; relations between the two have strengthened as the war on Islamic State continues to escalate.
As the reports of U.S. troops being fired upon from Turkey continue filter in, State Department spokesman, John Kirby, addressed the recent expulsion of U.S. special operations forces from northern Syria by Free Syrian Army (FSA) soldiers on Friday. Mr. Kirby stated he had not seen the FSA video threatening to slaughter U.S. troops and it’s “concerning” and discomforting if true.”