Turkish President Erdogan promises to 'drown' new Syrian Kurdish border security force

Since the US confirmed training new force in northern Syria, tensions with Turkey have been running high, with Ankara accusing Washington of building a "terrorist army".

The announcement naturally fueled anger in Turkey, as officials from the president to the leaders of all mainstream opposition parties expressed concern.

Ankara is fiercely opposed to the SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) - considered by the Turkish government to be a "terrorist" group. But relations between the two countries have been strained due to US support for Kurdish fighters.

"If we are strategic partners then you must carry this out with us", he said, in comments carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The force will deploy along the border with Turkey to the north, the Iraqi border to the southeast and along the Euphrates River Valley, which broadly acts as the dividing line separating the US -backed SDF and Syrian government forces backed by Iran and Russian Federation.

Turkey is already under a nation-wide state of emergency, a measure President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration last week extended for the sixth time to counter what he labels as collaborators of the attempted coup against his rule in 2016.

"Syria strongly condemns the USA announcement on the creation of militias in the country's northeast, which represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of global law", said the source, cited by state news agency SANA.

Mr Erdogan has said the Kurdish YPG militia is trying to establish a "terror corridor" on Turkey's southern border, linking Afrin with a large Kurdish-controlled area to the east.

The move has added to Turkish anger over USA support for Kurdish-dominated forces in Syria. The imminent transformation of the SDF into the BSF marks the next step in Washington's efforts to legitimize and perpetuate its cooperation with the PKK affiliate in northern Syria. "Our operations will continue until not a single terrorist remains along our borders, let alone 30,000".

Kurdish authorities in Afrin have accused the Turkish Government of bringing "huge military reinforcements" into Syria in the name of de-escalating conflict between Syrian Government forces and rebels, but that they have instead targeted Kurdish villages "since the first day". But Assad's rhetoric toward the Kurds has turned increasingly hostile.

"The US military, whether the commander and chief was [Barack] Obama or now [Donald] Trump, wants to accomplish this job with as light a US troop presence as possible", said Nicholas Heras, a fellow at the Washington-based Centre for a New American Security. It said any Syrian who joined the force would be deemed "a traitor". "Ultimately, it means creating a huge separate territory on borders with Turkey and Iraq, and east of Euphrates River".

  • Jon Douglas