Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has finally broken his silence about the downing of a Turkish drone in Syria last week by the United States and said Turkey will retaliate when the time is right.
His remarks came following a Cabinet meeting on Monday evening.
“There is no doubt that this incident is burned into our national memory, and when the time comes, action will be taken,” Erdoğan said, referring to the shooting down of the Turkish drone in northeast Syria by the United States last Thursday.
The Pentagon said US F-16 warplanes on Thursday shot down a drone belonging to NATO ally Turkey that was deemed a potential threat to American forces in Syria.
The incident came as Turkey conducts airstrikes targeting Kurdish forces in the area following a suicide bombing on Sunday in Ankara that was claimed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.
Turkish military officials initially denied that the drone belonged to the armed forces, but the Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed last Friday that the drone was Turkey’s. Some reports said it belonged to Turkish intelligence agency MİT.
The ministry said, “During operations, one UCAV was lost due to different technical assessments in the deconfliction mechanism with third parties. Necessary measures are being taken to ensure a more effective operation of the deconfliction mechanism with the relevant parties.”
The ministry’s statement did not include any direct reference to the United States, which has approximately 900 troops deployed in Syria as part of international efforts to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.