Turkey leaks secret locations of US, French troops in Syria
Turkey’s state news agency on Tuesday published the locations of secret US military bases in Syria as well as details on the numbers of US and French troops stationed there, sparking the ire of fellow NATO member states.
In the latest display of tensions between Turkey and other NATO member nations, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency earlier this week published a detailed report of the secret locations of US military bases, operational posts and military posts inside Syria. The 620-word news report also included the numbers of US soldiers and French special forces stationed at these locations.
The unprecedented leaking of sensitive battlefield information by the state-run news agency obviously had official Turkish backing, according to Jasper Mortimer, FRANCE 24’s Turkey correspondent.
“It certainly was intentional. Anadolu agency is the hand-servant of the [Turkish] government. It would not have published this report without the green light from the top of government,” explained Mortimer, reporting from Ankara, adding that the revelation of troop numbers was particularly serious. “War correspondents do not give the number of troops in the unit to which they are attached. That is seen as giving information to the enemy. But here, Anadolu agency appears to have done exactly that.”
‘Advertising’ battlefield secrets
The report, “US increases military posts supporting PKK/PYD in Syria,” lists US positions in Kurdish administered area of northern Syria and is the latest display of Ankara’s ire over Washington’s support for the PYD (Democratic Union Party), which Turkey views as the Syrian affiliate of the proscribed Turkish PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).
The PYD is the political umbrella of the YPG (People’s Protection Units) which part of the US-led military operations against the Islamic State (IS) group in the region.
“Turkey sees the YPG as an affiliate of the PKK and Turkey has long called on Washington to withdraw support for them. But there’s a difference between calling on America to withdraw support and actually advertising the details of that support,” said Mortimer.
The US denies working with Kurdish separatists and maintains the YPG is part of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), which includes a large component of Arab troops.
French special forces on the ground
The leaked details of US positions inside Syria include three US military posts in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa, home to the IS group’s de facto capital.
The report mentions the presence of US and French special forces stationed in a military post located on a hill south of Kurdish-administered town of Kobani. At a military base in Ayn Issah, a town in northern Raqqa, troops included “200 US soldiers and 75 French special forces units,” the report added.