Turkey rules out sharing intel with Syrian Kurdish PYD

Turkey rules out sharing intel with Syrian Kurdish PYD

Uğur Ergan - ANKARA
Turkey rules out sharing intel with Syrian Kurdish PYD

In this Jan. 30, 2015, file photo, a Syrian Kurdish sniper looks at the rubble in the Syrian city of Ain al-Arab, also known as Kobani. AP Photo

Turkey has ruled out sharing military intelligence with the leading Syrian Kurdish group amid the international fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Turkish diplomatic sources told daily Hürriyet.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s Deputy special envoy to the global anti-ISIL coalition, Brett McGurk, told the Hürriyet Daily News last week Washington was communicating with the Democratic People’s Party (PYD) in Syria to make sure the air campaign against ISIL was “effective and precise.”

“So we have ways to communicate with them on the ground and that has been very effective. And those communications go up through our chains of command, so Arbil is one piece of that but it goes up all the way then to Qatar where the air campaign is managed,” McGurk had said.

These remarks triggered a debate in Ankara, giving birth to the question whether Turkey could become allies with the PYD, which it considers an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which the country has been recently engaged in a fierce conflict at home, coupled with its air strikes in northern Iraq.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet, diplomatic sources in Ankara ruled out this option by stressing Turkey, itself, was the most capable actor when it comes to intelligence gathering in the region. 

“The fact that we [Turkey] set the July 23 air strike’s timing according to the time of the meeting of ISIL militants at their headquarters [in northern Syria] shows the power of our intelligence network,” one official said.

According to the same source, Turkey was sharing the intelligence it collected on the ground with the U.S., which uses this intelligence in its operations against ISIL near the border. 

“As such, it is out of the question for us to include the targets that the PYD shows to our intelligence pool. We can’t be put in a position that we cooperate with the PYD. The U.S. also knows it,” the official said.

After noting it was up to the U.S. to pass the Turkish intelligence leads to the PYD, the official added: “According to the Turkish intelligence, PYD members who provided the U.S. with intel leads are spies pushed by the U.S. into the PYD, and not figures who have been with this organization for a long while.”