Turkish artillery fire comes close to US forces in Syria: report

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A photo taken from Turkey's Hatay province, on February 22, 2018 shows Turkish Army Forces' artillery units hit YPG targets within the 'Operation Olive Branch' launched in Syria's Afrin. Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20 in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region. AFP PHOTOS

Turkish artillery hit close to a US special operations unit near the Syrian city of Kobani on Friday, according to a US official familiar with the initial assessment, CNN International reported, although the Turkish Defense Ministry denied the report.

The artillery shells hit several hundred yards from where the US forces were located. There were no American injuries according to early reports and at this time no indication it was deliberate, the official said.

Newsweek was first to report on the incident.

A second US official confirmed that there was an explosion “in the vicinity” of US forces but said the US government had not yet verified the origin of the explosion.

“We are aware of the explosion. We know right now that no US service members have been injured,” the second US official told CNN, adding that “we don’t know for sure from whom it came, and we don’t have verification from where right now.”

The official added that the US forces were at an outpost “near Kobani” at the time of the explosion.

A third official said that “there has been no activity since the explosion, and we have no indication that there was any intentional fire on US forces.”

In a statement late on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Turkish artillery did not hit close to the US special operations unit near Kobani, adding that the Turkish forces were taking every measure to make sure the artillery fire does not hit the US forces in the area.

Earlier on Friday Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon that “the Turkish military is fully aware down to explicit grid coordinate detail of the locations of US forces,” later adding, “We retain the right of self-defense.”

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