- The US-led coalition has set up a Kurdish-dominated “Border Security Force” in Syria.
- The move has enraged Russia, Iran, the Syrian regime, and especially Turkey.
- A US Defense Department spokesperson asserted that “The training is designed to enhance security for displaced persons returning to their devastated communities.”
The US-led coalition in Syria acknowledged over the weekend that it’s training a Kurdish-dominated “Border Security Force” to operate in northern and eastern parts of Syria.
It has especially angered Ankara, which views Kurdish YPG as a terrorist organization – an extension of the Kurdish PKK that has waged an insurgency in Turkey for decades.
Business Insider asked the Pentagon and Operation Inherent Resolve on Tuesday and Wednesday why such a force was created, but both spokespersons were unable to give an answer until Wednesday night.
“The training is designed to enhance security for displaced persons returning to their devastated communities,” Defense Department spokesman Eric Pahon wrote in an email. “It is also essential so that ISIS cannot reemerge in liberated and ungoverned areas. This is not a new “army” or conventional “border guard” force.”
“We are keenly aware of the security concerns of Turkey, our Coalition partner and NATO ally,” Pahon wrote. “Turkey’s security concerns are legitimate. We will continue to be completely transparent with Turkey about our efforts in Syria to defeat ISIS and stand by our NATO ally in its counter-terrorism efforts.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed on Monday to “strangle [the Kurdish force] before it’s even born,” and the Guardian reported on Tuesday that Turkish troops and tanks on the border with Syria were poised to strike most likely along a 60 mile-long area between Afrin and Manbij.
- REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
Turkish media also showed footage on Wednesday of Turkish tanks moving towards the Syrian border.
It’s been reported that the BSF will be about 30,000-strong, and deploy to Syria’s northern border with Turkey, the southeastern border with Iraq and along the Euphrates River, which acts as a border between the US-backed SDF and Syrian regime and Russian forces.
“They will be providing border security through professionally securing checkpoints and conducting counter-IED operations,” the coalition told Reuters, adding that coalition and SDF forces were still engaging remaining ISIS fighters in Deir al-Zor province.
Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Ahval that the “Kurds already man check points on Turkey’s borders, the U.S. just decided to give them an inelegant name.”
Stein also added that the US had already planned to train a force of about 30,000, and that the name “Border Security Force” was “poorly thought out and a mistep.”