ANKARA – Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Friday refuted allegations that a Turkish airstrike, launched as part of the country’s offensive against the mainly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, hit a position of U.S. coalition forces in northern Syria.
“It is out of the question for us to harm coalition forces or civilians,” semi-official Anadolu Agency quoted Akar as saying.
“Where the terrorist is, that’s our target. Our most important principle is not to harm civilians and the environment,” he added.
The operation, dubbed Claw-Sword, continues with air and ground support fires against the targets, Akar told reporters, noting the operation has so far neutralized 326 “terrorists.”
Turkish authorities often use the term “neutralize” to imply that “terrorists” are killed, wounded, or captured in security operations.
Türkiye carried out an aerial operation on Sunday against the YPG in northern Syria and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
The U.S. Central Command said on Wednesday that a Turkish drone strike on a base in Syria a day earlier had put U.S. troops at risk.
“We have received additional information that there was a risk to U.S. troops and personnel,” the U.S. command said in a statement.
No U.S. service members were injured in the strike, it added, without elaborating on the location.
A base near Hasakah city in Syria is used by the U.S.-led coalition and the YPG-affiliated Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to fight the Islamic State (IS) militants.
The Operation Claw-Sword was launched after a bomb explosion in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul on Nov. 13 that killed six people and injured 81 others.
After the attack, Turkish police said they had detained a Syrian woman named Ahlam Albashir who admitted to taking orders from the YPG, which Ankara considered the Syrian branch of the PKK.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the United States and the European Union, has rebelled against the Turkish government for over three decades.