The U.S. has reportedly installed an advanced air defense and radar system near the Turkish border with northern Syria's Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani, held by PKK-affiliated terrorist groups.
A video circulated on social media apparently shows American soldiers installing the radar system at U.S. bases in Ayn al-Arab and in Hasakah Province, which are controlled by the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG). The video also showed the advanced radar system being transported by military transport aircraft and installed by American soldiers. The American commander in the video said that the radar will monitor aircraft traffic around the area.
The radar in an area that was previously announced a no-fly zone by the U.S. and its close proximity to Turkey could pose a threat to Turkish security. The radar system may likely be used to monitor the air and ground movements of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
Turkish officials, who spoke to Daily Sabah the on condition of anonymity, neither confirmed nor denied the installation of the radar system.
On Aug. 26, U.S. Ambassador William Roebuck announced that U.S. forces in northern Syria would not withdraw until Daesh was completely eliminated, signaling a permanent presence of the U.S. in the region.
The U.S., determined to stay in Syria, had previously installed 13 mobile and stationary radar systems in a 26,000 square kilometer area, under the control of YPG, for the purposes of surveillance and intelligence.
In a response to Daily Sabah's question on the issue, Colonel Sean Ryan, U.S. Army Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said that the coalition and U.S. partners have installed systems in northeastern Syria to provide vital protection and guidance to coalition aircraft supporting the anti-Daesh mission there. "The radars are not related to anything YPG or PKK, because we do not work with them, only the SDF
[Syrian Democratic Forces]," he said.
The U.S. support for the SDF, which is dominated by the YPG, has long been a cause of tension between Ankara and Washington, sparking fears of a direct confrontation between the two NATO allies.
The U.S. had also given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite Ankara's repeated warnings that the group is organically linked to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union. Ankara says the weapons are ultimately transferred to the PKK and used against Turkey. Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20, 2018, to eliminate the YPG from northwestern Syria's Afrin.
The YPG's ultimate goal is to establish an autonomous region in northern Syria by connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast. As such, Turkey's operation aims to put an end to the group's autonomy plans, which Ankara terms a "terror corridor."
*Contributed by Ragıp Soylu from Washington