Russia warns against ‘unilateral’ US army plan in Syria
US plans to establish 30,000-strong new border security force led by terrorist group PKK/PYD in Syria
By Sibel Ugurlu and Cansu Dikme
Russia’s foreign minister on Monday slammed the U.S. plan to form an army led by the terrorist PKK/PYD, warning that it could jeopardize Syria's territorial integrity.
Speaking at his annual news conference in Moscow, Sergey Lavrov pointed to possible problems that the U.S. plan could cause for Turkey’s ties with Kurds.
“The U.S.’ unilateral, ultimatum-like project, aimed at establishing an army in Syria, may create problems in relations between Turkey and Kurds,” Lavrov said.
He also said U.S. move would lead to the formation of a large isolated area on Syria’s border with Turkey and Iraq.
“This serious issue is leading to worrisome results regarding the steps to be taken for these areas in Syria.”
On Sunday, the U.S.-led international coalition against Daesh announced that it would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the SDF -- the U.S.-backed group, largely controlled and manned by the PKK/PYD terrorist organization in Syria.
"The coalition is working jointly with the SDF to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF)," Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, officially known as the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said in a written statement to Anadolu Agency.
"Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF's inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000," he added.
Turkey condemned the move, saying it was "wrong and objectionable" to cooperate with the PKK/PYD terrorist organization on the ground in Syria in order to fight Daesh and stabilize the areas liberated from it.
"Moreover, Turkey, which is a member of the coalition, was not consulted on the establishment of the so-called 'Syria Border Protection Force'," said a Foreign Ministry statement.
Lavrov also said the U.S. move “can’t serve to calm the situation” in Syria’s Afrin district, which borders Turkey, adding that Russia expects Washington to explain its move.
“Like our Turkish and Iranian colleagues, we also expect an explanation from the U.S. on this issue. We think this decision will jeopardize Syria’s territorial integrity.
“Our purpose in Afrin is to provide a cease-fire.”
Lavrov said work is underway with Turkey and Iran ahead of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, set to be held on Jan. 29-30 in Sochi, Russia.
“We expect our Turkish partners to complete the establishment of observation points in de-escalation zones in Syria’s Idlib as soon as possible to prevent new provocations. Right now, we have three observation points, and in total 20 will be established,” Lavrov said, expressing hope that these observation points would help normalize the situation in Idlib.
Last October, the Turkish military began crossing into the region to establish observation points to monitor the cease-fire regime as part of the Astana peace process.
During peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana last September, the three guarantor countries -- Turkey, Iran and Russia -- agreed to establish de-escalation zones in Idlib and in parts of the Aleppo, Latakia, and Hama provinces.
Turkish military units are also deployed in Afrin, an Aleppo district near the Turkish-Syria border, one under siege by the PKK/PYD terrorist organization.
The PKK/PYD is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.
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