Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pentagon 'concerned' after Turkey reveals secret locations of US bases in Syria

The Pentagon has voiced concerns to Turkey after the NATO ally's state news agency disclosed the locations of 10 US military posts in northern Syria. The Anadolu Agency (AA) said the bases — two airfields and eight military outposts — are being used to support the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Despite being NATO allies, the United States and Turkey have a tense relationship over the current US-led effort to defeat ISIS in northern Syria.

America is relying heavily on YPG and other Kurdish elements to conduct the fighting on the ground, and has shipped weapons to the Kurds in a move that infuriated Turkey because it views the YPG as a "terrorist group." The Pentagon said the release of "sensitive military information" exposes coalition forces to unnecessary risk.
Anadolu Agency reporter Levent Tok says the troop locations weren’t leaked by the Turkish government, but that the locations were gathered by Anadolu’s reporters in Syria, as well as from social media posts by Kurdish fighters. “The U.S. should have thought about this before it cooperated with a terrorist organization,” Tok told Bloomberg.

Experts say the locations were most likely leaked to the Anadolu Agency in retaliation for U.S. cooperation with the YPG. The map also indicates that there has been a buildup of U.S. forces between the YPG and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, or FSA.
Turkish warplanes and Free Syrian Army proxy forces have clashed with U.S.-backed Kurds many times over the last several months.

In April, Turkish warplanes struck YPG and Iraqi Peshmerga positions, and in May, FSA forces mortared positions near the Syrian city of Manbij where U.S. forces are located.

The attacks have threatened to undermine the U.S.-backed campaign in Raqqa, where Kurdish militants are fighting the de facto ISIS capital.