The Pentagon has said it is not creating a "new army" or conventional "border guard force" along the Turkish border and assured that the United States would be "completely transparent" with Ankara about its plan to train border protection forces comprised of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.
"The US continues to train local security forces in Syria. The training is designed to enhance security for displaced persons returning to their devastated communities," the statement read. "We are keenly aware of the security concerns of Turkey, our coalition partner and NATO ally. Turkey's security concerns are legitimate."
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister and Government Spokesman Bekir Bozdag said that Turkey would not hesitate to take measures in Syria’s northern Kurdish-controlled Afrin enclave and other areas unless Washington stops supporting the idea of a Kurdish-led border force in the region.
Stressing that such a force would pose a threat to Turkey’s national security and territorial integrity, Bozdag said that that such a step by the US "was wrong" and Ankara "has reached the limits of its patience."
"When the Turkish people and Turkish state's safety are in question, when it is necessary to remove risks and destroy threats, Turkey will do so without hesitation," he added.
Ankara Threatens Actions Against Kurds
Since January 13, Ankara has been threatening to launch an offensive against the Syrian Kurds to prevent the creation of "US border security forces" in Syria.
Over the weekend, the US-led coalition acknowledged that it is training a Kurdish-dominated "Border Security Force" to operate in northern and eastern parts of Syria.
According to Col. Thomas Veale, the public affairs officer of Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition is training the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to create a 30,000-strong force to maintain security along Syria's borders. SDF is an umbrella group of fighters dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
This has provoked condemnation from Turkey, which has consistently maintained that YPG is a terrorist group with PKK ties.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara cannot limit its precautionary measures against the YPG to the Afrin enclave and might engage SDF forces in the city of Manbij (also in Aleppo province), and to the east of the Euphrates River.