United States forces shot down a Turkish Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in proximity of US troops near Hasakah, Syria, on October 5, 2023.
Pentagon Press Secretary and Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder confirmed the incident during a briefing, revealing that the Turkish UAV had entered a declared US-restricted operating zone (ROZ) and posed a potential threat to US troops.
The incident unfolded at approximately 7:30 local time in Syria when US forces observed UAVs conducting airstrikes near Hasakah, some of which occurred inside the US ROZ. The strikes were located around a kilometer (3,200 feet) away from US forces who, as a precautionary measure, relocated to bunkers.
The strikes were conducted against military targets and infrastructure in regions under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed coalition primarily formed of Kurdish groups. They followed an attack claimed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party at the Turkish Interior Ministry in Ankara, on October 1, 2023, in which two police officers were injured.
At around 11:30 local time, a Turkish UAV re-entered the ROZ and approached the area where US forces were stationed. US commanders assessed the UAV, now less than half a kilometer from US forces, as a potential threat, Ryder explained. In response, US F-16 fighter jets were scrambled and subsequently shot down the Turkish UAV at approximately 11:40 local time.
#Syria: Turkish TAI Anka UCAV was shot down near Tall Tamr in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria, amid series of Turkish airstrikes on SDF-controlled areas.— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) October 5, 2023
It is yet to be confirmed who is responsible for the downing. pic.twitter.com/xj9sI8hxxs
The destroyed drone appeared to have been a TAI Anka-S UAV. The TAI Anka is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), similar to the MQ-9 Reaper used by the US military, though slightly smaller. Designed for both reconnaissance and surveillance missions, it can also conduct air strikes using air-to-ground missiles.
No US or Turkish forces were injured during the incident, and there is currently no indication that Turkey intentionally targeted US troops. The incident underscores the complex and volatile situation in Syria, where multiple actors operate in close proximity, often leading to heightened tensions and the risk of accidental clashes.
“The secretary reaffirmed that the United States remains in Syria exclusively in support of the campaign to defeat ISIS,” Ryder said. “The secretary also acknowledged Turkey’s legitimate security concerns and underscored the importance of close coordination between the United States and Turkey to prevent any risk to U.S. forces or the global coalition’s defeat-ISIS mission.”
This incident also marks the first time a NATO ally has intentionally shot down the aircraft of another NATO partner. Several instances of crashes occurred following encounters between Greek and Turkish fighter jets over the Aegean Sea, but they were never confirmed by both sides as shootdowns.