Photos of the service members made public Thursday had outraged the Turkish government, which believes the Kurdish rebel group to be a terrorist organization in Turkey.
Fatisah, Syria — Towards the end of last month, photo’s surfaced paraded as the first to show US special forces inside Syria. Shot by an unidentified photographer, the images bore evidence of a war far more complicated than most may anticipate. While many outlets regurgitated the photo release, others echoed one apparent consequence of their disclosure.
All this reputedly comes out the village of Fatisah, just a few miles from Islamic State-held Raqqa. Sources report Kurdish militia groups have used Fatisah to stage a push on the militant capital. The fighters aren’t alone, however, as several American special forces operatives were reputedly photographed amidst the fight.
A photographer of Agence-France Presse, who took the picture, claimed the men wouldn’t speak to him whatsoever. Although more photo’s are floating around the web, the journalist responsible has yet to come forward. Whereas Pentagon officials claimed the soldiers weren’t on the front, their rebel allies disagreed.
Many observers immediately took notice of a completely ironic lack of uniformity in the operatives’ uniforms. Different camo fatigues, gear, no name tags, and an assortment of American and Kurdish patches. In response to the leak, Pentagon spokesperson Col. Steve Warren said it traditionally symbolizes solidarity with native fighters. Perhaps military command has had a change of heart, as those very same men were ordered to remove Kurdish colors. In fact, Col. Warren, after condoning their use, called them “unauthorized” and “inappropriate.”
Outcry started with Turkish officials, who regard Kurdish militias as terrorist organizations. “Political sensitivities”, as the colonel put it, referencing Turkey’s stance as a key ally. Turkey isn’t far from Syria’s thoroughly razed soil, and receives an influx of seaborne refugees. US rebel training programs also rely on Turkey for practice space, and recruit smuggling.
Interestingly, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested that “they [Special Forces] use the patches of Daesh, al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda when they go to other parts of Syria and of Boko Haram when they go to Africa.” It can be assumed that Cavusoglu’s comments were sarcastic, though this is unclear.
Cavusoglu’s backlash is intriguing, given his government’s role in arming and supplying Syrian jihadists. Turkish intelligence operatives supplied such groups with aid during late 2013 and early 2014, Reuters reports. Several trucks were targeted for police search, once in 2013 and again in ‘14, on a tip that they may be carrying weapons. Only one of the four involved were searched, the others slipping by without incident.
Reuters reports how Turkish intelligence “officials” found with the cargo resisted the search and threatened police. Turkish officials later admitted the cargo belonged to their intelligence agency, MIT, and contained aid. Since then, prosecutors who ordered the search have been detained pending indictment..apparently for conducting an illegal search. Aid was reputedly going to rebel groups including Ahrar al-Sham, who’s members allegedly fought alongside Osama Bin Laden.
Col. Steve Warren, ABC reports, claimed to understand that special forces are “going to do what they going to do, and they have their customs and courtesies.” Warren, however, holds strategic alliances in the region in high esteem, not wanting to jeopardize any tentative relationships. Although US officials claim the men were ordered to remove the unauthorized dress, it’s unknown if any disciplinary action was taken.