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Turkey denies link to report on US forces' Syria positions

© 2017 AFP

20 July 2017

Turkey on Thursday denied any government link to a report run by the state-run news agency that infuriated Washington by disclosing the locations of US military posts in northern Syria.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the Anadolu Agency (AA) had run the story based on its own network of sources, not government information.

AA published a report Monday detailing the 10 US military facilities' whereabouts and, in some instances, the number of special operations forces working there.

Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said the release of sensitive military information exposes coalition forces to "unnecessary risk" and added that Washington had conveyed these concerns to Turkey.

The publication came at a time of growing tensions between Ankara and Washington in northern Syria, where US forces work with a Kurdish militia Turkey classifies as a terror group.

"Anadolu Agency wrote this news based on its own network of sources," Kalin told reporters in Ankara in televised comments.

"There is no question here that this is information which has been given by our government."

He said the government had only found out about the story after it was published.

"It is absolutely out of the question that we would want to put in danger the soldiers and personnel of our allies wherever it is -- in Syria or Iraq or elsewhere," he said.

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), which Ankara views as an affiliate of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

AA said one post in the town of Ayn Issah in Raqa province -- where US and Kurdish forces are seeking to oust jihadists -- housed around 200 US soldiers and 75 French special forces troops.