Turkey did not give U.S. coalition forces adequate advance notice before it bombed terrorist targets near U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.
The Turkish military bombed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets unexpectedly in an attack that also killed Kurdish fighters who are working with the United States fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“There was less than an hour of notification time before the strikes were conducted,” said U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
“That’s not enough time. And this was notification, certainly, not coordination as you would expect from a partner and an ally in the fight against ISIS.”
Dorrian, who was speaking to Pentagon reporters from Baghdad, said there were U.S. forces within six miles of the strikes and charged that the Turkish military only gave a vague description of where the attack would happen.
“It was an unsafe way to conduct operations,” he added.
“There was an inadequate amount of time to clear all of our forces away from what is a very significantly sized area, so we didn’t have exact fidelity on where the strikes would occur and not an enormous amount of time to have our forces react,” Dorrian said.
The U.S.-led coalition has since “let the Turks know that the amount of time … was inadequate for us to ensure safety of our forces on the ground.”
Turkey said the airstrikes were a necessary attack against the PKK, a left-wing organization based in Turkey and Iraq.
The State Department condemned the deadly strike on Wednesday.
Deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the Middle East is a “complex battle space,” but he warned “Turkey cannot pursue that fight now at the expense of our common fight against the terrorists that threaten us all and that obviously means ISIS.”