U.S. fighters chase Syrian jets from skies over American troops

Earlier Friday, the Pentagon issued a terse warning that the U.S. would act to defend its troops on the ground.

“We will ensure their safety and the Syrian regime would be well advised not to do things that would place them at risk,” said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis.

Asked specifically if that meant the U.S. would shoot down Syrian warplanes that threatened U.S. forces on the ground, Davis said, “We have the inherent right to self defense. When anybody is striking against U.S. forces, and U.S. forces are at risk we have the right to take action.”

The incident Thursday involved a “small number” of U.S. special operations advisors who are working partnered with Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State in northern Syria. The Pentagon said the area was “well known to everybody to include the regime, that the coalition is actively engaged in operations against ISIL.”