According to the breaking exclusive: “A contingent of U.S. Special Forces has been caught up in Turkish shelling against U.S.-backed Kurdish positions in northern Syria.” It was “apparently by mistake,” the report adds.
The Newsweek report cites an “Iraqi Kurdish intelligence official and senior Pentagon official” to say that “Special Forces operating in the Mashtenour hill in the majority-Kurdish city of Kobani fell under artillery fire from Turkish forces” amid operations related to ‘Operation Peace Spring’.
It will be interesting to see what Ankara’s defense will be — no doubt claiming the attack on Americans was ‘accidental’ and ‘inadvertent’ — given that, as Newsweek continues:
The senior Pentagon official said that Turkish forces should be aware of U.S. positions “down to the grid.” While the official could not specify the exact number of personnel present, but indicated they were “small numbers below company level,” so somewhere between 15 and 100 troops.
No US casualties were mentioned in initial reports, however, this will likely be enough to trigger Washington sanctions in 3, 2, 1… But in the meantime—
— Barzan Sadiq (@BarzanSadiq) October 11, 2019
President Trump has again threatened more Turkey sanctions. In a surprise Treasury Department press briefing early Friday afternoon, Steven Mnuchin said the president has “authorized” new sanctions on NATO member Turkey over its ongoing assault on US-backed Syrian Kurdish groups in northern Syria, also as bipartisan legislation targeting Turkey has been introduced in both the House and Senate.
However, Mnuchin noted that the proposed sanctions have not been activated yet. “We are putting financial institutions on notice,” Mnuchin told reporters in the White House briefing room.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says POTUS is concerned about the ongoing military offensive by Turkey. Says President Trump has authorized significant authorities for new sanctions, but the US is not activating those sanctions yet. pic.twitter.com/1NfYRvu2vt
— Eamon Javers (@EamonJavers) October 11, 2019
The treasury secretary further promised that any additional Turkey sanctions would be “very powerful” — this as the Pentagon in its own briefing on the same day tried to push back against the idea that the US had “authorized” Erdogan’s military operation, or that it had “abandoned” the Kurds.
The Turkish lira remained volatile on the news after selling off all day, still hovering near its weakest level since August, after a day earlier Turkish stocks and government bonds fell, combined with the great unknown of looming and now apparently ever closer Washington punitive sanctions.
This also after the Pentagon earlier of Friday condemned the Turkish assault on northeast Syria, despite US troops withdrawing from border positions deeper into bases in the country which enabled the Turkish offensive in the first place.
And in more bad news for Erdogan and Turkey’s economy, France announced on Friday that EU sanctions against Turkey are “on the table,” as other European nations led by Sweden are pushing an arms embargo on Ankara.