Turkey's State-Run News Agency Leaks U.S. Base Locations In Syria
RFE/RL July 19, 2017
The Pentagon has voiced concerns to Turkey after the NATO ally's state-run news agency published U.S. base locations in northern Syria, in a move that could deepen distrust between the two NATO allies and endanger U.S. forces in the area.
In reports issued in both Turkish and English on July 18, Anadolu disclosed detailed information about 10 U.S. bases in northern Syria, which it said are assisting the People's Protection Units, or YPG, in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
The reports, which included troop numbers and a map with the location of the U.S. forces in the Turkish version, noted that the military outposts are "usually hidden for security reasons, making it hard to be detected."
The YPG is a militia that Ankara says is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a group that Turkey, the United States, and the European Union have listed as an extremist organization.
Despite a strong military alliance dating back decades, Ankara and Washington have been at odds for years now over the American cooperation with Kurds in Syria who are affiliated with separatist movements inside Turkey.
"The release of sensitive military information exposes Coalition forces to unnecessary risk and has the potential to disrupt ongoing operations to defeat ISIS," a Pentagon spokesman told RFE/RL, using an alternative acronym for IS.
"ISIS is the greatest threat to regional stability and it is critical that all parties operating in Syria remain focused on what is most important -- the annihilation of ISIS," Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said.
"While we cannot independently verify the sources that contributed to this story, we would be very concerned if officials from a NATO ally would purposefully endanger our forces by releasing sensitive information."
"We have conveyed these concerns to the Government of Turkey," Rankine-Galloway said.
Levent Tok, an Anadolu Agency reporter on the story, told the Bloomberg news service that the information about U.S. troop positions wasn't leaked by the Turkish government.
He said the story was based on field work by Anadolu's Syria reporters and some of the details on the bases were disclosed on social media by Kurdish fighters.
"The U.S. should have thought about this before it cooperated with a terrorist organization," he said.
With reporting by newsweek.com, bloomberg.com, and thedailybeast.com
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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