Americas, Middle East

60K local forces needed to secure Daesh-freed territory

'We're probably some 50% of the way through,' says top military leader

Servet Günerigök   | 06.09.2019
60K local forces needed to secure Daesh-freed territory

WASHINGTON  

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford estimates 50,000-60,000 local security forces are needed to hold territory reclaimed from Daesh terror group in northeastern Syria.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on Thursday, Dunford said the YPG-led SDF still needs the support of international anti-Daesh coalition to effectively deal with the terror group's remnants.

"So, there's still work to be done, and we estimate some 50-60,000 local security forces in total would need to be trained to hold that ground," said Dunford. "And we're probably some 50% of the way through."

Daesh has a "significant" presence in Syria and Iraq and maintains the ability to conduct insurgent and guerrilla style operations, said the top military official.

Turning to a potential campaign from Turkey against YPG/PKK group in northeast Syria, Dunford said such a move would not be helpful to U.S.-Turkish interests.

"And I think that's why we're so focused on finding an acceptable way to address Turkey's concerns and at the same time maintain campaign continuity against ISIS in northeast Syria," said Dunford, using an alternate name for Daesh.

The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terror group in the U.S. and Turkey. Washington has partnered with the YPG-led SDF in the effort to secure Daesh's defeat in northeast Syria, which has strained relations with Ankara.

In early August, Turkish and U.S. military officials reached an agreement for a safe zone in northern Syria to serve as a "peace corridor" for displaced Syrians longing to return home. Also, a Joint Operations Center in Turkey will be set up to coordinate its establishment.

*Kasim Ileri contributed to the story

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