Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington DC, United States (4E) – The Turkish government has denied a hand in an online story published in the state-owned Anadolu Agency (an international news agency) showing a map pinpointing the locations and functions of 10 U.S. military bases in Syria, some of which were secret until they were exposed.
The controversial map depicts a stretch of northern Syria controlled by Syrian Kurdish forces or the YPG supported by the U.S. Turkey, however, considers these U.S. allies as a terrorist group bent on creating a separate state out of Turkish territory.
Turkey views the YPG as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish separatist movement labeled as a terrorist organization by several countries, including Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
Government spokesman Ibrahim Kalin alleges the news story with the map was based on Anadolu’s “own newsgathering network,” and insisted Ankara had not given “the information or directed the agency.”
Turkey has no “thought or intention that would endanger the lives of our allies’ soldiers,” said Kilin.
His remarks jibe with those made by Anadolu reporter Levent Tok, who said the base locations weren’t leaked by the Turkish government but were gathered by Anadolu’s reporters in Syria, and from social media posts by Kurdish fighters.
“The U.S. should have thought about this before it cooperated with a terrorist organization,” said Tok.
Skeptics, however, said Ankara most likely leaked the base locations to Anadolu in retaliation for Washington’s support for the YPG.
The U.S. earlier condemned publication of the map, saying it endangers the lives of American soldiers serving in Syria.
“For operational security reasons, we do not disclose the locations of coalition forces operating in Syria to defeat ISIS,” said the Pentagon.
“The release of sensitive military information exposes coalition forces to unnecessary risk and has the potential to disrupt ongoing operations to defeat ISIS.”
The Pentagon statement went on to say that 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.”
Ten bases, including two with air strips, were identified in the map on Anadolu English website. The Turkish version includes some troop counts and a detailed map of the U.S. armed forces’ presence. The story also identified locations where French special forces are deployed.
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