Turkish State-Owned Media Reveals US Military Positions

US special forces in Syria. (Photo: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. special forces in Syria (Photo: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Turkey’s state-owned media outlet has published the locations of U.S. military bases inside Syria, showing a stunningly betrayal to the national security of a supposed ally.

The report contained the locations of 10 American bases and outposts in Kurdish-held northern Syria, which is under the control of the YPG (Kurdish) militia. Turkish security sources confirmed the details of the story, which even included specific troop numbers and details of the capacity of some of the bases, according to Al-Monitor.

The report also revealed the locations of some French forces in the region.

Turkey has for some time been angry with America for its support of the Kurdish YPG forces. The YPG is the militia of the Kurdish regions of Syria and is a partner with the United States in the battle against the Islamic State terrorist group. However, they are also affiliated with the PKK, a Kurdish separatist militia and political party which fights for self-rule in the Kurdish areas of Turkey. Therefore Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist group and as a national security threat.

The U.S. government is understandably angry about the leaks.

“We would be very concerned if officials from a NATO ally would purposefully endanger our forces by releasing sensitive information,” a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition effort to defeat the Islamic State, said in a statement. “We have conveyed these concerns to the Government of Turkey.”

As The Daily Beast’s Roy Gutman put it, “Although Turkey’s powerful president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, regularly vents his anger at the U.S., it is still highly unusual for a NATO ally to reveal details of a U.S. military deployment during active operations in a war zone.”

A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command and a separate spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve asked The Daily Beast not to share the information.

Turkey has been heading in a more radical direction for some time. Since March they have prevented humanitarian aid from being transported into Kurdish areas across the Turkish border. They accuse humanitarian organizations of secretly supplying the YPG.

Turkey has also made alarming changes domestically. The new school curriculum for the 2017-2018 school year will no longer teach evolution, but teaching the concept of jihad has been added to the curriculum.

The study of evolution was taken out “because it is above the students’ level and not directly relevant,” according to Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz.

“Islamic law class and basic fundamental religion lectures will include [lessons on] jihad,” Yilmaz told reporters. “The real meaning of jihad is loving your nation.”

 

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.