ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Turkey's state news agency Anadolu exposed the location of French army bases and the number of soldiers in Syrian Kurdistan, just days after France's President Emmanuel Macron criticized his American counterpart Donald Trump's shockingly abrupt decision to withdraw US forces.
It is the second time this year that the Anadolu Agency (AA) has released a detailed report, including maps, of French military locations where troops serve in support of Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting the Islamic State (IS) group.
The article claimed a total number of 200 French soldiers who it claimed mostly relied on Americans for logistical needs. In comparison, there are thought to be over 2,000 US troops.
France and Britain have stated their intentions to remain in regions liberated from IS, although it now remains unclear if this is possible, given the ever-increasingly aggressive posture taken by Turkey in its threats to stage yet another invasion into Syria to destroy Kurdish-led autonomy there.
The Turkish agency wrote that its findings were the result of "work carried by our reporters on the ground."
"In four of nine military locations the French are protected by Americans, and in the rest, they operate under the protection of PKK," it said, referring to Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) by the acronym of another politically-related Kurdish group that has fought the Turkish state for decades.
In a separate news analysis piece, the agency that has been a longtime cheerleader for the policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government described France as "having been left naked in the Eastern Euphrates where Turkey got a green light" by Trump's decision to attack Kurds who were pivotal in destroying much of the IS territorial caliphate.
"French appetite is whetted to capture the region under the US occupation," the piece argued, drawing historic parallels with France's colonial past in Syria.
American and French forces stationed in Syria are in the region solely, in military terms, to help local forces fight Islamist militants. Turkey itself occupies a large chunk of northwestern Syria including the region of Afrin, from where 160,000 Kurds were driven during Turkey's intense war on US-armed Kurdish forces earlier this year.
Turkey, on the other hand, has draped rebel-held official buildings in Syria with Turkish flags, appointed local administrators and civil servants, and changed the language of education to Turkish along with Arabic while excluding the commonly-spoken Kurdish language.
Erdogan postponed his planned invasion of northern Syria despite the decision by Trump, made at the Turkish leader's strong insistence that US troops abandon allied Kurdish forces. This was possibly done in order to coordinate any action—or lack thereof—with Russia and Iran, both positioned to become dominant powers in Syria after the US army vacates its positions.
Editing by John J. Catherine