Wednesday, December 19, 2018
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

Tillerson denies US plans to form Syria border force

Reported US-initiated Syria border force is 'misportrayed, misdescribed and some people misspoke', top US diplomat says.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that Washington owed Turkey an explanation over reports that it was creating a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria, adding that the issue has been "misportrayed".

"That entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed, some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all," Tillerson told reporters on his way back from giving a speech at Stanford University in California on Wednesday.

According to media reports, Washington is working to establish the border security force with the involvement of Kurdish militias.

Citing several other US officials, reports published earlier this week said that the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group would recruit around half of the new force from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of fighters dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and considered by Ankara to be a "terrorist" group.

The Turkish government said that it would carry out a military operation into Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria if Washington goes ahead with the reported plan.

Furthermore, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said relations between Turkey and the US would be "irreversibly harmed" if Washington forms the force in question, after meeting Tillerson in Vancouver on Tuesday on the sidelines of a gathering to discuss sanctions against North Korea.

Tillerson said in California he had told Cavusoglu that the US' intention was to train local forces in the fight against remaining ISIL fighters in Syria.

"We have ISIS still attacking in parts of northwest Syria and along the Euphrates valley, so this is just more training and trying to block ISIS from their escape routes," said Tillerson.

"We understand why they reacted the way they did," he said, amid Turkish preparations to launch an operation against the YPG.


READ MORE: Turkey to launch imminent Syria operation against YPG


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said various times recently that Turkey's armed forces had completed preparations for an operation against the Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin in northwest Syria.

He added that the operation will be carried out in cooperation with moderate Syrian rebels supported by Ankara.

Ankara reinforcing border

US President Donald Trump decided to arm YPG fighters, despite Turkey's objections and a direct appeal from Erdogan at a White House meeting in May 2017.

The US arms shipments began before the launch of a months-long offensive to remove ISIL from the Syrian city of Raqqa. The YPG played a prominent role in the eventual defeat of the group later in 2017.

Tensions between US and Turkey - two NATO allies - remain high, despite Trump saying last November that Washington would no longer supply weapons to the YPG. Ankara says that the US is not keeping its promises it made to Turkey.

Ankara has been reinforcing its southern border by sending armoured vehicles, tanks, and heavy machine guns, according to local media.

Turkey has been working closely with Russia and Iran to end the long-running Syrian war, despite Moscow and Tehran supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - and Ankara backing the anti-Assad opposition.

Syria and Russia made statements in line with Turkey earlier in the week, opposing the reported US plans to establish a border force in the north of Syria.

In 2016, Turkey began a military campaign called Euphrates Shield Operation, which targeted ISIL and the YPG. That eight-month battle officially ended in March 2017.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe via RSS or Email:

Wildfires deadliest on record in Ca...

Read More

California wildfires death toll at ...

Read More

California wildfires: Death toll ri...

Read More

Raging California wildfires kill 9,...

Read More

Brazil landslide: At least 10 dead ...

Read More

Florida orders recount in contentio...

Read More

Most Read Articles

Most Read News

Donation

Thanks to all of our supporters for your generosity and your encouragement of an independent press!

Enter Amount:

Featured_Author

Login






Login reminder Forgot login?

Subscribe to MWC News Alert

Email Address

Subscribe in a reader Facebok page Twitter page

Israel pounds Gaza

India's Kerala state devastated

Capturing life under apartheid