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Turkey to prevent terrorist threat at its southern borders - PM
18 January 2018, 01:53 | Floyd Cook
Turkey and Russia denounce US plans to set up border force in Syria
Half of the force will be made up of soldiers from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which now controls a quarter of Syria's territory along the borders with Turkey and Iraq.
Describing the US military presence in Syria as part of a broader USA strategy to prevent Daesh's resurgence, Tillerson added that the USA will remain in Syria until Daesh is completely defeated. "It is also essential so that IS can not reemerge in liberated and ungoverned areas", the Pentagon said. The SDF has been at the forefront of the fight against the "Islamic State" (IS).
The United States is "keenly aware of the legitimate security concerns of Turkey, a member of the Global Coalition and a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally", the US military statement said.
"Continued strategic threats to the USA other than ISIS persist".
Tillerson said a political resolution to Syria's civil war was necessary to curb the influence of Iran, Assad's key backer, and Sunni Muslim extremist elements such as ISIS. "Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops; supporting Lebanese Hezbollah; and importing proxy forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere".
The transition to what appears to be open-ended stability operations in Syria could leave those US -backed forces vulnerable to shifting alliances, power struggles and miscommunications as Assad's allies and enemies vie for greater control of post-war Syria.
From 2003 to 2008, the US government consistently said that USA troops would not leave Iraq until conditions on the ground allowed doing so.
"Syria remains a source of severe strategic problems and a major challenge for our diplomacy", Tillerson said. And they said that the United States was committed to backing the force for at least two years.
On Thursday, Turkish artillery struck targets in the YPG-controlled region of Afrin in northwestern Syria, as Turkey appeared to continue preparations for an invasion.
But the Pentagon said late Wednesday it does not plan to create an "army" and the force is aimed at fighters from the Islamic State (IS) group and maintaining stability in areas recaptured from the jihadists.
It says a US -backed plan to turn thousands of the Syrian Kurdish fighters into a border security force poses a threat to its territorial integrity, and it has been planning an offensive to push them out of the border area, beginning with Afrin.
News broke on Saturday that the USA was helping the SDF build a new "border security force".
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoganvowed on Sunday "to purge terrorism from our southern borders", adding his military will attack the YPG in Afrin in the coming days.
But analysts say a full cross border operation would be near impossible without the approval of Russian Federation, which has a military presence in the area. Several French jihadis had at one point risen to prominent positions in the organization, such as top propagandist Rachid Kassim, now believed to be dead after a US airstrike.
On Wednesday, Pentagon officials and spokespeople for Operation Inherent Resolve, the anti-ISIS coalition, would not comment on why the USA military was setting up such a force and whether it would require additional U.S. troops. Adrian Rankine-Galloway toldAnadolu Agency, referring to the PYD/YPG (People's Protection Units) in Afrin. "We are not involved with them at all".
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