Turkey’s state-run news agency has pinpointed US military positions in an open publication – considered by Pentagon as a dangerous move, putting US troops in an intelligence disadvantage towards the Islamic State. The United States has issued a complaint to Turkey, who are long time NATO allies. This Tursday, the news agency Anadolu published the report – it mentions 10 U.S. military posts in northern Syria, with U.S and French troops sometimes referred to by precise numbers.
A Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon, said it was an unnecessary risk and that a publication like this only serves to disrupt operations against the Islamic State.
“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,” according to Pahon.
He added that USA has voiced its concerns to Turkey directly and are certainly expecting no more slip-ups like these.
Ankara and Washington have been at odds for some time now because of the U.S. decision to support and arm Kurdish YPG fighters to battle ISIS and supress them from their strongholds in Syria, like Raqqa. Steven Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, saw the issue of arming the YPG as among the top complaints by Erdogan’s regime.
“They see this as the United States siding with terrorists and midwifing a terrorist state on Turkey’s border,” said Cook in a briefing with reporters.
In Turkey, the YPG is condemned by the government, viewed as a branch of the the PKK – a Kurdish separatist group that has been waging an insurgency in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s. It fears an effort to form a contiguous Kurdish state embracing some Turkish territory. Ankara was infuriated last month when Washington – which has designated the PKK as a terrorist group – announced that it would continue the Obama administration’s policy of arming the YPG, although U.S. officials insist that the United States will retrieve the weapons provided once Islamic State is defeated.
A decision by During Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington, Ankara was also angered by some U.S. prosecutors decision to charge a dozen Turkish officers after an attack on demonstrators during anti-Erdogan protests.