Pentagon: Turkey Attacked Where It Knew US Troops Were

Meanwhile, a reported ISIS escape and a climbing death toll
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2019 8:15 AM CDT
Reports: Death Toll Climbs in Turkish Offensive, Plus an ISIS Escape
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, smoke billows from targets in Tel Abyad, Syria, during bombardment by Turkish forces on Friday.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

As Turkey's push into Syria continues into its fourth day, with further ground and air assaults in the region, news is trickling in on the casualties. Per Reuters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that 74 Syrian fighters led by Kurds have died so far, with civilian deaths now at 20, mostly in or near the border town of Tel Abyad. An observatory official says more than four dozen fighters with Turkish-led Syrian rebel groups have also been killed. As for fears that the Turkish offensive might lead to the escape of Islamic State militants kept in prisons in the attack zone, those fears may be coming to fruition: A rep for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces reports that five ISIS members have busted out of a prison in the town of Qamishli, per the Independent.

Meanwhile, disturbing news from Newsweek underscores the chaos, with a report that US Special Forces in the majority-Kurd city of Kobani came under fire from Turkish shelling—perhaps by mistake, though some are skeptical. A senior Pentagon official says the incident involved "small numbers below company level," which Newsweek notes would be between 15 and 100 troops. The troops didn't fire back, but waited for the shelling to stop, then retreated. There were no reported injuries. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the attack to CNN. "US troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions," the rep said. "The explosion occurred ... in an area known by the Turks to have US forces present." Turkey's Defense Ministry on Friday had denied knowing US troops were in the area, insisting Turkish forces were going after Kurdish fighters. (More Turkey stories.)

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