Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), US Central Command (CENTCOM), the US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), shared a message on Twitter that labeled the Turkish armed forces as terrorist, the Diken newspaper reported on Monday.
Retweeted by Ryan’s official Twitter account, the tweet featured a picture of an armored vehicle along with several children and read: “My favorite photo of the week. US Special Forces (Green Berets) patrolling the Rojava-Turkey border after terrorist Turkish army snipers targeted Rojavan civilians, killing a little girl walking home from school. These children are safe, protected by Green Berets.”
The message was first noticed and announced by Julian Röpcke, a German journalist from the Bild newspaper, who tweeted a screenshot from Ryan’s account that included the retweet.
Following reactions on social media, Ryan withdrew the retweet but also blocked Röpcke, who then asked CENTCOM if “journalists get blocked now for doing their job” and claimed that he had not done anything wrong.
Later, Ryan unblocked Röpcke and claimed in response that he had shared the tweet based on the photo of Marines protecting children and without reading the full message.
Ryan further argued that although he quickly deleted the message, someone had taken a screenshot and abused it in order to spread negative propaganda, to which Röpcke replied: “I take this as an apology for blocking me without reason. Thanks for unblocking me again. And yes: ‘stop spreading propaganda’.”
Following the conversation, Ryan’s picture was taken off the spokesman’s account and replaced by the official logo of OIR, and the account’s username was changed from “OIR Spokesman” to “OIR Spokesperson.”