Erdoğan vows to ‘choke’ US-established border force in Syria

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the Kazan Soda Electric Factory at Sincan district of Ankara, Turkey on January 15, 2018. Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul / Handout / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkey will destroy a border security force planned by the US in northern Syria, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Reuters on Sunday reported that the US-led Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS is working with its Syrian militia allies to set up a new border force of 30,000. It will deploy along the border with Turkey to the north, the Iraqi border to the southeast and along the Euphrates River Valley.

“America has admitted that it is setting up a terrorist army along our border. It is our duty to choke this terror army before it is born,” Erdoğan said during a meeting in Ankara.

The force, whose inaugural class is currently being trained, will be deployed at the borders of the area controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“We know how treacherous, how hypocritical they are. The name of this army is army of the treacherous. People need to know this,” added Erdoğan.

Calling on the US to terminate the plan, Erdoğan said: “Our message to our allies and friends is this: Do not stand between the terrorists and us. Do not stand between us and this herd of murderers. If not, we will not be responsible for unfortunate events. Get you flags down from the terrorist bases so that we are not forced to give those flags back to you. Get your insignias off the uniforms of terrorists so we are not forced to bury them with the terrorists.”

Turkey views the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Erdoğan on Saturday said Turkey would carry out a military operation in Syria’s Afrin and Manbij regions “if the terrorists do not pull out in one week.”

Hours after Erdoğan’s remarks Turkish artillery units hit PKK/PYD targets in Afrin’s Bosoufane, Cindirese, Deir Bellout and Rajo districts from the Reyhanli and Kırıkhan districts of Turkey’s southern Hatay province and a Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) observation post in Syria’s Idlib region.

On Saturday Anadolu reported that a convoy of Turkish tanks were deployed on the Syrian border in Hatay.

The Turkish military on Oct. 9 launched surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the northwestern Syrian province of İdlib as part of the multinational “Tension Reduction Control Force.”

President Erdoğan on Oct. 24 said Turkey had to a great extent completed its operation in Idlib, indicating that Afrin would be the next target.

Turkey with Free Syrian Army forces took control of the Jarablus and Al Bab areas in northern Syria during an operation against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants between August 2016 and March 2017.

More than 70 soldiers were lost during Operation Euphrates Shield, which was evaluated as a strategic move to prevent unification of areas controlled by the Kurdish PYD.

Erdoğan said on Oct. 8 that Turkey would not allow a Kurdish corridor in Syria extending along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean while assessing Turkish military operations in Idlib.

The Turkish president on Aug. 23 had said the PYD was trying to create a corridor to the Mediterranean in northern Syria, warning that Turkey would not allow this whatever the cost.

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