Turkey's top diplomat, Blinken discuss downed drone

Turkey's top diplomat, Blinken discuss downed drone
In a call between the Turkish Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State, Turkey asserted its position to continue airstrikes in Syria.
2 min read
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said Ankara's air strikes in Syria will continue. (Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkey's top diplomat told Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday that Ankara's air strikes in Syria will continue despite the US downing of a Turkish drone.

The phone call between Blinken and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan came one day after a US fighter jet shot down a Turkish combat drone that was targeting Kurdish forces backed by Washington in Syria.

It marked the first such incident between the NATO allies.

Fidan told Blinken that "Turkey's counter-terrorism operations in Iraq and Syria will continue with determination," a Turkish diplomatic source said after the call.

The two reached an agreement on ways to de-escalate future conflicts in the region "in a way that would not hinder our fight against terrorism," the diplomatic source said.

Turkey stepped up cross-border air raids against Kurdish targets in northeastern Syria and northern Iraq in retaliation for a bombing in Ankara that injured two policemen on Sunday.

A branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies -- claimed responsibility for the first such attack in Ankara since 2016.

Turkey concluded that the two assailants who died in the Ankara attack came from Syria.

Turkey's operation in Syria is primarily targeting oil and other facilities controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

The group comprises an integral part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) -- the Kurds' de facto army in the area -- that spearheaded the battle to dislodge Islamic State group jihadists from the region in 2019.

United States support for the YPG has strained Ankara's ties with Washington since the jihadists' defeat.

Those tensions spilled over when a US fighter jet shot down a Turkish combat drone on Thursday that was deemed to be a threat to US forces backing up the YPG.

The Turkish presidency on Friday called foreign support for the YPG "a colossal folly".