Turkey tracks YPG in northern Syria through telecommunication services - report

Turkey has started providing internet and telecommunications services to an area in northern Syria it seized during a nine-day offensive last month, pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper reported on Wednesday. 

The active network will also help authorities track the activities of Kurdish militias in the region, the newspaper said.

The Turkish military and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have taken control of a 32-km deep zone between the northeast Syrian towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn, after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) withdrew from the area in accordance with a U.S. brokered ceasefire deal agreed last month. 

A company based in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep has been providing telecommunication services in the region, Yeni Şafak said. 

Turkey has been building a system that will have full control over data in the region it calls a safe zone, Yeni Şafak said. Turkey made similars move in other regions it seized in northwestern Syria during previous two incursions into the country.

Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than three decades.

“In areas cleared of the PKK, data can be kept under control when secure internet is provided,” said Nihat Cindioğlu, a Turkish software developer. “This helps decreasing the number of terrorist acts. Each bit of data recorded significantly helps the security forces. And in all those areas Turkey is also blocking access to web sites and platforms it has banned,” he said.