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Turkey's Erdogan, NATO chief discuss Syria over phone

Turkey's Erdogan, NATO chief discuss Syria over phone”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned US troops against coming between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces, which Ankara views as an extension of Turkey's own Kurdish insurgency.

Turkish officials have watched in alarm over the past six years of civil war in Syria as the YPG and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance that it dominates have taken control of tens of thousands of square kilometres of territory.

"We acknowledge Turkey's concerns regarding these [Border] Security Forces being trained".

He claimed that the Trump administration "did not want to keep Syria as a state in its current borders".

The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish YPG, and the plan for the force dashes Turkish hopes that the USA would abandon the YPG once the war against Islamic State came to an end.

Akar was quoted as saying by state-run Anadolu news agency that Turkey "would not and will not allow an extension of the PKK to be given support and armed under the guise of "operational partner".

"A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders", Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara. "Our mission is to strangle it before it's even born". Under the plan, the US-led coalition fighting against IS in the war-torn area would recruit 30,000 fighters into the new force, according to U.S. officials.

The US plans to train about 30,000 personnel to help prevent infiltration by IS militants across the Turkish and Iraqi borders and the River Euphrates, which effectively divides Kurdish- and Syrian government-held regions.

Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have unravelled in recent weeks, partly due to rows over the president's planned visa restrictions.

Washington not only refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a former imam who Anakara accused of organizing the attempted coup in 2016, but also supplied the Kurdish YPG with weapons to fight ISIS, some of which may have been used against Turkish forces.

Half of the 30,000-strong BSF will be made up of Syrian Democratic Forces veterans fresh off their long fight against ISIS, while the other half are now being recruited and trained.

Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, said it would shortly mount an assault on the Kurdish-held Syrian town of Afrin, close to the Turkish border.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said Turkey is ready "at any moment" to start an operation in the besieged border area of Syria. The planned border force may be seen as a bargaining chip, showing the U.S. also has a stake in Syria's future, including a tool with which to press Russian Federation to negotiate on Assad's future.

The United States has about 2,000 troops in Syria fighting Islamic State and has said it is prepared to stay in the country until it is certain Islamic State is defeated, that stabilisation efforts can be sustained and there is meaningful progress in U.N. -led peace talks on ending the conflict.



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