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On Wednesday, the Pentagon released a statement expressing their concern of a Turkish news agency that provided a map and details of U.S.-run military outposts in northern Syria. A spokesman for the U.S. Army stated that the “the release of sensitive military information exposes coalition forces to unnecessary risk and has the potential to disrupt ongoing operations to defeat ISIS”. The article that was published provide detailed information of 10 U.S. bases in northern Syria. The article also provided a breakdown of each base including the number of troops and the possible location of the French Special Forces that operating in the area.
The sensitive information was released by the state-run Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
Turkey has been a U.S. ally for many years and they are also a member of NATO. But in recent months Turkey has been at odds with the United States, because of the military support the U.S. has been giving Kurdish fighters, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG). The Kurdish fighters have been armed and have been trained by U.S. troops to help push the Islamic State out of northern Syria. The Kurds play a very big part in the fight against ISIS in Syria. But the Turkish government see them an enemy of the state, because the YPG is considered to be an extension of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party. This group is recognized by the United States as terrorist group that has waged an insurgency against Ankara for years.
This latest incident marks another strain in a long-standing U.S.-Turkish relationship. The concerns about the leak of sensitive military information were relayed through the State Department to Ankara. After the State Department expressed their concerns about the article, portions of the article were removed.
The report Levent Tok, from the Anadolu Agency, who wrote the story, told Bloomberg News that some of the information had been obtained by field work and social media images. Other parts of the article had been obtained from open source information on U.S. military operations in Syria. Tok stated that most of the information had been obtained from publicly available satellite imagery and videos posted by combatants on the ground.
The Pentagon did not comment if the information was accurate, but they did state that the leak of the location of U.S. bases in Syria was a great concern.
The exact number of U.S. troops on the ground in Syria is unknown, but it is believed to be between 500 to 1,500. This is not including any other coalition operating in Syria. Currently U.S. troops are supporting Syrian fighters battle the Islamic State. It is believed that U.S. troops are helping run many key airfields and installations in support of combat operations against ISIS.