The US provided Turkey with intelligence that may have helped it track and target Kurdish forces in Syria that played a vital role in the US-led fight against ISIS, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The US was providing intelligence to Turkey on the region as part of a counterterrorism partnership up until Monday, a Department of Defense official told The Times, the day after the Trump administration announced it was pulling US troops from northeastern Syria ahead of a Turkish operation.
Trump’s decision to pull US forces from the region has been broadly criticized as a betrayal of the Kurds and a green light for a Turkish military operation. Turkish President Erdogan announced the onset of a military operation against the US-allied Kurdish forces in Syria on Wednesday. Trump said the US did not endorse it and that it was a “bad idea.”
Two US officials told The Times that as Turkish military officials planned the assault over the past few weeks, they were provided with American surveillance video and information from reconnaissance aircraft. Information like this could prove useful in picking out targets for air strikes.
The intelligence sharing continued as late as Monday — two days before Turkey invaded Syria to go after the Kurds — according to the report, while past reports suggest the US in 2017 began sharing more intelligence on the Kurds with Turkey to quell the Turkish government’s anger over Trump arming Kurdish forces in Syria.