A misguided strike by Turkey's military that killed 34 civilians mistaken for terrorists was based on intelligence provided by a U.S. Predator drone, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
According to WSJ, the drone was monitoring a mountain pass between Turkey and Iraq when it spotted 38 men who were smuggling gasoline. U.S. and Turkish military personnel working side-by-side in a control center in Ankara relayed the information to Turkish officials, who launched a 40-minute attack that left all but four of the smugglers dead.
Based on the initial images provided by the drone, the Turkish military believed the men were guerrillas from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. U.S. Defense Department officials told WSJ that the drone was piloted away, at the direction of the Turkish military, before it could capture more detailed information.
The attack raises questions about how America's allies use the information provided by U.S. drones. A former senior U.S. military official told WSJ he and fellow officers were sometimes troubled by Turkish standards for selecting targets in their long-running battle with the PKK.
Drones have become a key part of U.S. arsenal in the Global War on Terrorism, scoring major victories by killing high-profile targets but also causing friction with the countries where strikes are carried out.
Source: The Wall Street Journal