Turkey, Politics, Americas

US owes Turkey explanation on border force: Tillerson

We are not creating a Syria border security force at all, says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pushing back at controversy

18.01.2018
US owes Turkey explanation on border force: Tillerson U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

By Safvan Allahverdi

WASHINGTON

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson late Wednesday said Washington owed Turkey an explanation over reports it was creating a border force in northern Syria, reports he called inaccurate, according to U.S. media reports.

"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.

The U.S.-led international coalition against Daesh said on Sunday that it would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the SDF/PKK -- a group largely controlled and manned by the PYD/PKK terrorist organization.

Tillerson said he had met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, where he was attending a meeting on Korea.

He said he had told Cavusoglu that the U.S.' intention was to train local forces in the fight against remaining Daesh militants in Syria.

"We have ISIS [another acronym for Daesh] still attacking in parts of northwest Syria and along the Euphrates valley, so this is just more training and trying to block ISIS [Daesh] 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 PYD/PKK.

The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU.

Since the mid-1980s, the PKK has waged a wide-ranging terror campaign against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed including women and children.

More than 1,200 have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the group resumed its armed campaign against the Turkish state following a fragile cease-fire.

Earlier in the day, Tillerson had said the U.S. would continue to work with Turkey and consider Ankara's concerns about the PKK.

Also on Wednesday, the Pentagon said that the controversial new force was not a new "army" or conventional "border guard" force.

"The U.S. continues to train local security forces in Syria. The training is designed to enhance security for displaced persons returning to their devastated communities," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said in a written statement.

"It is also essential so that ISIS [Daesh] cannot reemerge in liberated and ungoverned areas."


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