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US troops in Syria come under artillery fire from Turkish forces

Earlier in the day, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper reiterated that the offensive caused damage to bilateral relationship.

SNS | New Delhi |

US troops posted near the northern Syrian border came under artillery fire from Turkish forces, though no harms were reported, the Department of Defence (DoD) said in a statement here.

The Turkish forces took positions at the US troops in the vicinity of the city of Kobani at approximately 9 pm on Friday; Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

“The explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of a location… in an area known by the Turks to have US forces present,” it said.

“All US troops are accounted for with no injuries. US forces have not withdrawn from Kobani.

The statement further said, “The US demands that Turkey avoid actions that could result in immediate defensive action.”

Earlier in the day, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper reiterated that the offensive caused damage to bilateral relationship. He said that he had expressed strong opposition to Ankara’s actions in Syria to his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar.

The Pentagon chief Esper also made clear to Akar that the Turkish offensive risked serious consequences for Turkey.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that President Donald Trump would give the Treasury authority to designate individuals and entities of the Turkish government involved in human rights abuses or actions leading to the further deterioration of peace, security and stability in northeast Syria.

Mnuchin during a press briefing at the White House said, “We can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday said that Turkey would retaliate if the US imposed sanctions over its offensive into northeast Syria, according to media reports.

On Wednesday, Turkey launched military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeast Syria after the US started pulling its troops out of there following a recent decision.

Kurdish forces took heavy losses in the US-backed campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria which they spearheaded. In March, they declared the territorial defeat of IS after overrunning the jihadists’ last redoubt in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria.

Ankara strongly opposed Washington’s support for Kurdish forces in Syria citing their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has fought a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. Turkey has already carried out two cross-border offensives into Syria, including one in 2018 that saw it and allied Syria rebels overrun the majority-Kurdish Afrin enclave in the northwest.