Turkish Government Surveilled US Troops as Part of 2016 Coup Probe - Report

The Turkish government secretly investigated and monitored US troops deployed in Turkey as part of the state's larger investigation into the failed 2016 coup attempt, secret documents recently obtained by the Nordic Monitor reveal.

The "trove" of documents reviewed by the non-profit organization offers details on US military plans, drone operations, troop movements and anti-Daesh operations that American troops took part in.

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The US Air Force's 39th Mission Support Group (MSP), which operates out of the Incirlik Air Base in Adana, Turkey, and the US Air Force's 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron Det-7 teams were among the forces monitored by the Turkish government. A watchful eye was also kept on any and all operations involving the Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

"[Operations] were reviewed on the suspicion that they might have been involved in the failed coup," reads Nordic Monitor's report. "The secret probe helps feed into the Erdoğan government's false narrative which claims that the US was the mastermind behind the abortive putsch although there has been no evidence presented to support that claim."

The organization ultimately concluded that "none of the activity [recorded in the documents] appears to be unusual and in fact seems to be routine operations, ranging from construction and spare parts supply to maintaining drone surveillance flights."

Investigators also noted that even though activities carried out by American forces "appear to be in line with agreements between Turkey and the United States… Turkish prosecutors concluded that documents which featured classified US troop movement and logistical operations were relevant to the coup investigation."

The collection of intelligence data, according to Nordic Monitor officials, shows that prosecutors were "doing the bidding of the government instead of searching for the facts."

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Tensions between the US and Turkey have been at a boil for several months. Most recently, pressure began mounting following the arrest of American pastor Andrew Brunson over alleged links to the Gulenist movement, which has been widely blamed by the Turkish government for inciting the coup attempt. Brunson was eventually released in October 2018.

The US and Turkey are presently at odds over Ankara's intention to purchase Russia's S-400 missile defense system instead of the US-developed Patriot air and missile defense system. Washington has gone as far as threatening Ankara with sanctions if it continues to move forward with the S-400 deal. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the row led the US to put a hold on delivering equipment for the F-35 fighter jet to Turkey.

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