USA discloses PKK/PYD-led army plan in Syria

Turkish PM Binali Yıldırım

Erdogan said the new operation into Afrin would be an extension of Turkey's 2016 incursion into northern Syria, which aimed to combat IS and stem the advance of USA -backed Kurdish forces.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters the USA training of the new "Border Security Force" is the reason that the US charge d'affaires was summoned in Ankara on Wednesday.

Turkey's president vowed "to purge terrorism" across the border in Syria as Turkish forces pounded US-backed fighters with artillery fire on Sunday.

Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA and the European Union, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 security forces and civilians - including more than 1,200 since July 2015 alone, when it resumed its armed campaign against the Turkish state following a fragile cease-fire.

The US-led coalition is working with its Syrian militia allies to set up a border force of 30,000 personnel, the coalition said on Sunday, a move that has added to Turkish anger over US support for Kurdish-dominated forces in Syria.

"Such initiatives, through cooperation with the PYD/YPG in contradiction with the U.S commitments and statements, endanger Turkey's national security and the territorial integrity of Syria, and are totally unacceptable", it said.

Late a year ago, Turkish troops were then deployed to rebel-held northern Idlib province, south of Afrin, as part of an agreement with Iran and Russian Federation to implement four so-called de-escalation zones in flashpoint areas around Syria.

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"We will continue our operations begun with Operation Euphrates Shield to clean our southern borders of terror in Afrin (northern Syria) in the days ahead god willing", Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Erdogan said he also expected support from allies in Turkey's fight against terrorism.

The coalition said the BSF would operate under SDF command and around 230 individuals were now undergoing training in its inaugural class.

Dillon said efforts were taken to ensure individuals served in areas close to their homes. "More Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq to the south", the coalition's Public Affairs Office said.

Turkey has been working closely with Russian Federation and Iran to end the almost seven-year Syrian war, despite Moscow and Tehran supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - and Ankara backing the anti-Assad opposition.

IED stands for improvised explosive device.

The US has about 2,000 troops in Syria fighting ISIL, and has said it is prepared to stay in the country until it is certain of three things: that the extremist group has been defeated, that stabilisation efforts can be sustained, and that there is meaningful progress in UN-led peace talks on ending the conflict.

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