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Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria

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In the latest display of Turkish anger at U.S. policy in Syria, the state news agency has divulged the locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria where the U.S. is leading an operation to destroy the so-called Islamic State in its self-styled capital of Raqqa, reported The Daily Beast (US).

The list published by the Anadolu news agency points to a U.S. presence from one end to the other of the Kurdish self-administration region—a distance of more than 200 miles. The Anadolu news agency even listed the number of U.S. troops in several locations and in two instances stipulated the presence of French special forces.

Turkey has openly criticized the Trump administration—and the Obama administration before it—for relying in the battle against ISIS on a militia led by Kurds affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK. A separatist movement now at war with Turkey, the PKK has been listed by the U.S., EU, and Turkey as a terror organization.

To avoid the appearance of allying with such a group, the U.S. military set up the Syrian Democratic Forces, which have a large component of Arab recruits. But they are led by officers from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian affiliate of the PKK.

Although Turkey’s powerful president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 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. But the U.S. operation in Syria is in many respects an unusual case. Not only is the United States acting against the express wishes of NATO ally Turkey, which says its national security is directly endangered, it’s also operating without the permission of the Assad regime.

After a meeting Monday evening, Turkey’s National Security Council charged that weapons provided to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia had come into the possession of the PKK. “This shows that both are the same organization,” it said, adding that other countries were using a “double standard” for terror groups, an apparent reference to the U.S. alliance with the YPG militia.

The U.S. has denied repeatedly that arms it is supplying to the Kurdish fighters have seeped into the PKK war against the Turkish state, and the Turkish government did not back up its allegations with evidence.

Two U.S. bases in Syria—in Rmeilan, in northern Hasaka province, and Kharab Ishq, near Kobani in Aleppo province—already were well-known before Anadolu published them. Anadolu said Rmeilan, in Syria’s oil-producing district, was set up in November 2016, and is big enough to handle transport aircraft, while the base south of Kobani, set up in March 2016, is used only by military helicopters.
The eight outposts, often hidden behind signs warning of a “prohibited area,” are being used both for active military operations, such as shelling into the city of Raqqa, and for desk jobs such as training and operational planning, the report said.

It claimed bases used for military operations house artillery batteries with high maneuverability, multi-barrel rocket launchers, various mobile equipment for intelligence, and armored vehicles for general patrols and security.

In Hasaka province, the U.S. has three outposts, all used to train Kurdish militia members, according to Turkish security officials. Anadolu even gave the number of U.S. Special Forces troops it believed were stationed at two of the three outposts.

There are three U.S. military outposts in Syria’s Raqqa province, Anadolu said. French special forces troops are stationed at two of them. It said one of the locations serves as a communication center for the International Coalition fighting ISIS and is also used to disrupt ISIS communications.

In Manbij, which the Kurdish YPG militia captured last August, the U.S. now has two outposts. The U.S. sends out patrols, the agency noted acerbically, to protect the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) forces from Syrian rebels operating out of the Turkish controlled part of Syria known as the Jarablus pocket.

Turkish security officials confirmed the accuracy of the Anadolu list to The Daily Beast.
The publication is certain to spark ire in the U.S. military, which is leading the operation against ISIS.
Spokesmen for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, and for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, asked The Daily Beast not to publish the detailed information reported by Anadolu.

“The discussion of specific troop numbers and locations would provide sensitive tactical information to the enemy which could endanger Coalition and partner forces,” wrote Col. Joe Scrocca, coalition director of public affairs.

“Publishing this type of information would be professionally irresponsible and we respectively [sic] request that you refrain from disseminating any information that would put Coalition lives in jeopardy.”

Col. John Thomas, spokesman at the Central Command, also asked The Daily Beast to refrain from publishing details of coalition operations, on the grounds it would be “potentially harmful to the lives of those involved.”

In fact, Anadolu had already published the information Monday on its Turkish language service and then issued it on its English language services Tuesday. In addition, some of the locations on the Anadolu list were already known in public. The Iranian Tasnim news agency, for example, last November published the names of two bases and two outposts, and the Jusour Center, a Syrian think tank, published the locations of two additional outposts in April.

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The U.S. has increased the number of military posts in the terrorist PKK/PYD-held Syrian territories to ten, reported Anadolu Agency (Turkey).

According to Anadolu Agency reporters, a U.S. military point has recently been established in PKK/PYD-held areas in northern Syria.

Washington had set up two airbases in PKK/PYD-held Rmeilan district in the northeast of Al-Hasakah province in October 2015 and Harab Isk village in southern Kobani in March 2016.

While the Rmeilan airbase is large enough for cargo planes to land, Harab Isk base is only used by military helicopters.

While a part of the U.S. military aid to PKK/PYD goes through Iraqi border by land, the other part is shipped to the region through the Rmeilan airbase.

These “field-type” military points are usually hidden for security reasons, making it hard to be detected, according to Anadolu Agency reporters.

Apart from the military points, the U.S. also uses some other places which are hard to be detected like residential areas, PKK/PYD camps, easily transformed factories as operational points.

The U.S. forces keep the construction of operational points hidden by declaring some areas as "prohibited area" in northern Syria, the reporters say.

There are contact officers for airstrikes and artillery shelling, military consultants, training officers, operational planning officers and military units to engage in active conflicts in eight military points.

The equipment in the military points includes artillery batteries with high maneuverability, multi-barrel rocket launchers, various mobile equipment for intelligence and armored vehicles such as "Stryker" for general patrols and security.

Military points in Al-Hasakah
There are also three military points in Al-Hasakah, the latest of which was established in the northern district Tal Baydar.
According to the reporters, 100 U.S. Special Forces soldiers have been deployed to Tal Baydar within the scope of the fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

There are also foreign soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition stationed in the old farm district of Tal Tamir, which is located south of Resulayn near the Syrian-Turkish border.
There are also 150 U.S. Special Forces units in Ash Shaddadi district, south of Al-Hasakah, with a view to backing PKK/PYD during anti-Daesh operations.

Military points in Manbij
The U.S. has established two operational posts in Manbij in 2016 when PKK/PYD captured the district.

One of these posts is located in Ayn Dadad town in the district, which can be used by U.S. Special Forces for patrols against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) units rescued during the Turkish Euphrates Shield Operation.
The other military unit is located in Usariye town, west of Ayn Dadad with the purpose of protecting PKK/PYD units against FSA.

Military points in Raqqah
There are also three military posts in the northern province of Raqqah.
Along with U.S. special forces units, French special forces are stationed in a military post located in Mistanur hill, south of Kobani.

Around 200 U.S. soldiers and 75 French special forces units are also stationed in the PKK/PYD base in Ayn Issah town in northern Raqqah.

A military post in the town of Sirrin in Kobani is also used for airbornes. PKK/PYD is supplied with military equipment and ammunition through this post.

This post also serves as a communication center of the anti-Daesh coalition and used for disrupting Daesh communications.

PYD, the Syria offshoot of the terrorist organization PKK, is in control of Al-Hasakah in the east, northern Raqqah, Manbij, to the east of Aleppo, Afrin and Tal Rifaat districts.

Recognized by the U.S. as an ally in the fight against Daesh, PKK/PYD militants run under the name of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) in the war-torn country.

Despite the fact that the militants were given SDF uniforms, some of them wear uniforms with banners of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed head of PKK terrorist organization in Turkey.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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