Turkey yesterday denied targeting a US base in northern Syria after the Pentagon said its troops had come under artillery fire.
“There was no shot fired whatsoever on the US observation post,” Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar said in a statement to state news agency Anadolu.
Turkey had returned fire on Friday after Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) shelled a Turkish border police station from hills 1km from the US observation post in Syria, he said.
The Pentagon said an explosion occurred “within a few hundred meters” of a US position near the Syrian town of Kobani, and warned that the US was prepared to meet aggression with “immediate defensive action.”
US officials have said the outpost has been vacated after coming under fire.
A number of US troops left their post, but a large base in the town has not been affected by the shelling, they said.
“All necessary precautions were taken so as not to damage the US post,” Akar said.
The Turkish forces had stopped firing “as a precaution” after the Americans contacted them, he said.
“Anyway, the necessary coordinations are being conducted between our command centers and the Americans,” Akar added.
US troops last week pulled back from positions along the Turkey-Syria border ahead of a Turkish operation against Kurdish militants in Syria. The YPG was a close ally of the US in its fight against the Islamic State group, but is seen by Ankara as a “terrorist” offshoot of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
Turkish forces have taken control of the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain, which has been a focus of its operation, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.
However, a YPG official said that “Ras al-Ain is still resisting and clashes are ongoing.”
Kurdish fighters had temporarily pulled back from the town before launching a counter-offensive, the official said.
Bombardment by Turkish forces yesterday killed 10 civilians, taking to 28 the civilian death toll from the offensive now its fourth day, a monitor said.
At least seven were killed in airstrikes and shelling around Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Pentagon officials on Friday denied the US was abandoning its Kurdish allies in the face of the Turkish offensive.
“We have not abandoned the Kurds. Let me be clear about that,” US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters. “We have not abandoned them. Nobody green-lighted this operation by Turkey — just the opposite. We pushed back very hard at all levels for the Turks not to commence this operation.”
Washington is “greatly disappointed” by the Turkish incursion, Esper told a news conference.
He said it has badly damaged already frayed relations with Turkey, a NATO ally ousted from a Pentagon fighter program in July for refusing to drop its purchase of a Russian air defense system.
Additional reporting by AP
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data