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When The Diplomat reported that Army Brigadier General Neil Tolley said U.S. and South Korean forces have been parachuting into North Korea to search out a vast array of hidden tunnels, it seemed an unusual sliver of openness in a very clandestine type affair.The Diplomat’s story ran yesterday and the reason I’m not linking to it is because it’s been pulled, leaving only a clarification in its place:
In response to the controversy that has attended yesterday’s story on North Korea, The Diplomat has sought corroboration.
While the author strongly disputes the contention that any quote was fabricated, we acknowledge the possibility that Brig. Gen. Tolley was speaking hypothetically, about future war plans rather than current operations. The author insists he heard no such qualification, but if there has been a misunderstanding then we regret any confusion.
The Telegraph’s story has the General’s quotes and they appear far from ambiguous: “The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites,” Gen Tolley said. “So we send (South Korean) soldiers and U.S. soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance.”
Tolley is then said to have explained commandos were sent in with very little equipment to help keep them fast, mobile, and away from North Korean forces.
The AFP story on the ensuing denial quotes public affairs officer Colonel Jonathan Withington who says that quotes were taken out of context and fabricated.
“Quotes have been made up and attributed to him,” he said, denying that any U.S. or South Korean forces had parachuted into the North.
“Though special reconnaissance is a core special operations force (SOF) mission, at no time have SOF forces been sent to the north to conduct special reconnaissance,” he said in a statement.
Perhaps the only way to tell who is in the right will be to see if the General remains in his position or The Diplomat replaces its reporter.
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