Turks publish locations of US Spec Ops in Syria, putting US lives at risk

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with U.S., British, and French Special Operations advisers. (France24 television broadcast)

The Turks are once again straining their relationship with the United States by violating military secrecy and exposing American troop movements in Syria.

Released on July 18, an article from the Turkish-based Anadolu news agency gave dangerously specific details concerning US military operations in the Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria, namely where Kurdish forces -a long time nemesis of Turkey- are operating in the fight against ISIS.

As US-backed forces push ever-so closer to the ISIS capital of Raqqa, the need for secrecy has never been higher. However, the Turkish news completely shattered any sense of Operational Security (OPSEC) through the article, showing in extensive detail the types of equipment, troop sizes and other factors of the US operation, including staging points and direction of travel.

The Kurdish YPG and Turkey have long been at odds with each other, with the latter viewing the former as a scourge that has been involved in a three-decade insurrection with the Eurasian state. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long criticized the United States for its support of the YPG, which -along with other Kurdish units- have proven to be America’s most dependable and readily available local ally in the fight against ISIS.

While the Pentagon does its best to keep reporters on a tight leash in the Syria campaign (claiming security reasons), photos, tweets, video and information inevitably gets leaked, often by non-Americans. While the information in the Turkish article was confirmed by the Daily Beast, US officials asked the publication not to release details.

“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.”

In an era where information is instantaneous and shaky alliances, it seems that maintaining OPSEC is the hardest mission of all.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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