ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman on Thursday said the Turkish government did not play a role in the publication by its state-run news agency of locations of what appeared to be U.S. military posts in Syria.
Ibrahim Kalin made the comment at a news conference after the Pentagon said on Wednesday that the story put American forces in danger and that the United States had complained to Turkey, a NATO ally.
“A government role in the story regarding the location of U.S. bases in Syria is out of the question. It is unthinkable for us to endanger the lives of any country’s soldiers, and we expect the same from other countries,” Kalin said.
Turkey’s Anadolu state news agency published a report on Tuesday naming the location of 10 U.S. military posts in northern Syria, in some cases detailing the number of U.S and French troops present. It did not cite a source for its story.
Relations between Ankara and Washington have already been shaken by a U.S. decision to support and arm Kurdish YPG fighters to drive Islamic State from their Raqqa stronghold in Syria.
Turkey views the YPG as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the outlawed Kurdish separatist group that has been waging an insurgency in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s. It fears an effort to form a contiguous Kurdish state embracing some Turkish territory.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan and Alison Williams