The Turkish state news agency released a list of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria as a display of contempt toward U.S. collaboration with Kurdish forces in the war against ISIS. Turkey has long criticized the U.S. for arming fighters affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party -- the PKK -- a separatist movement at war with Turkey that the country labels as a terror organization -- in the fight against ISIS.
Anadolu, the Turkish state news agency that released the list, noted that the data it was releasing is "usually hidden for security reasons," seemingly acknowledging the sensitivity of the information. It still published the list of 10 locations of U.S. forces and noted the presence of French special forces at some of the bases.
The locations appear to be spread throughout the Kurdish self-administration region -- an area spanning more than 200 miles. The list showed U.S. military bases and outposts in the districts of Al-Hasakah, Kobane, Manbij and the ISIS-stronghold of Raqqa, Newsweek reports.
The Daily Beast reports that two of the bases -- Rmeilan in the northern Hasaka province and Kharab Ishq in the Aleppo province -- were already commonly known. Other news agencies had previously released the locations of some of the other bases as well.
In addition to the numbers and types of forces, the list also specified the types of operations carried out at some of the bases. The report claimed the U.S. regularly patrols its two outposts in Manbij to protect the Kurdish forces from Syrian rebels fighting in Turkish-controlled territory. Kurdish forces took control of Manbij in August 2016, The Daily Beast reports.
Turkey's criticism of the U.S. is over the U.S. military's support of the People’s Protection Units -- the YPG -- the Syrian arm of the PKK.
Despite Turkish criticism, the U.S. is not directly tied to the PKK. Instead, the U.S. military works with the Syrian Democratic Forces, a composite group of Arab recruits that includes Kurds involved in the YPG.
The PKK has repeatedly attacked in Turkey and the Kurdish and Turkish forces often clash in Syria. On July 17, Reuters reported a conflict between Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northwestern Syria.
Mostafa Bali of the SDF reported that some rebels from the Turkish side had been captured and executed.
On July 17, Turkey’s National Security Council claimed in a meeting that weapons given to Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters by the U.S. ended up in the hands of the PKK.
“This shows that both are the same organization,” said Turkish officials. Turkey accused other nations of having "double standards" for terrorist organizations, implying the U.S. partnership with the YPG.
The U.S. has repeatedly claimed it does not support the PKK and that no U.S. weapons have been given to the group. Still, because the U.S. works with the YPG, it violates the wishes of Turkey, a NATO ally.
Turkey's release of the U.S. military locations is expected to further stress diplomatic relations between the two countries.
A spokesman for U.S forces related to ISIS-operations asked The Daily Beast not to publish the contents of Turkey's list.
“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, director of public affairs for Operation Inherent Resolve. He added that the information could endanger the lives of U.S.-backed fighters.
Col. John Thomas, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, also asked The Daily Beast not to publish the information. English-language translations of the Turkish list were sent to U.S. media outlets on July 19.