Turkish officials denied allegations that they had leaked the secret locations of ten U.S. bases in Syria to Turkey's state owned agency, saying Turkish journalists obtained the information from their own reporters on the ground.
Anadolu Agency, whose majority stakes are owned by the Turkish Treasury, published an in detail article on the U.S. bases in Syria, containing information on the numbers of U.S. troops, aircrafts, types of bases and the presence of a previously unknown number of French deployments. The U.S. forces are in the country to support internationally designated terror group the PKK's Syrian armed wing, People's Protection Units (YPG) against Daesh.
A story published by the Daily Beast claimed that Turkey leaked the information through its state news agency, which was met with deep concern by the Pentagon.
Three senior Turkish official strongly denied the allegations that they had given the information on U.S. bases to Turkish journalists. "After a review, our understanding is that Anadolu reporters prepared this story with their own resources," a senior Turkish official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to government protocol.
A second Turkish official even went further and said that if Turkey wanted to send a message through leaks, it would have used international media organizations rather than its own state agency. "Leaking information to Anadolu Agency? That would be very stupid. People shouldn't insult our intelligence. We obviously wouldn't leave these kinds of fingerprints," the official said.
Media reports previously exposed two U.S. bases in the list, in Rmeilan in Hasakah province and one in Kobani near the Turkish border. The U.S.-led coalition brought some American reporters to cover senior military officials' visits and meetings to these bases. A senior YPG commander also listed the locations of the U.S. posts to Iraqi Kurdistan TV channel Rudaw in early July of about eight bases. In addition, Iran's Tasnim news agency last November also revealed two bases and two outposts, and a Syrian think tank published the location of two other bases in April.
A senior editor from the Anadolu Agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the agency compiled the information through its own reporters in Syria. "Our reporters prepared the story based on their sources in Syria, and also used some social media posts. We don't think it risked U.S. forces since all these bases are deep in territory controlled by the YPG," the editor said.
U.S. officials said this week that they conveyed their concerns to Turkish officials. A statement from the Pentagon said they couldn't independently verify the sources that contributed to the story, and stopped short of blaming Turkish officials for alleged leaking.