On January 14, the US-led coalition announced that it is working with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to form a Border Security Force (BSF) that will control the Syrian border with Turkey and Iraq. The BSF will be directly commanded by the SDF and will have over 30,000 fighters, according to the US-led coalition.
The Public Affairs Office of the US-led coalition confirmed to Reuters that a half of BSF fighters will be veterans of the Kurdish-dominated SDF. The US-led coalition is currently recruiting and training new fighters to form the other half of the force.
“They [the BSF] will be providing border security through professionally securing checkpoints and conducting counter-IED operations,” the US-led coalition said according to Reuters.
Moreover, the US-led coalition Public Affairs Office revealed that most of the BSF Arab fighters will serve on the border with Iraq and in the Euphrates valley. The Kurdish fighters will mainly serve on the Syrian-Turkish border.
“Efforts are taken to ensure individuals serve in areas close to their homes. Therefore, the ethnic composition of the force will be relative to the areas in which they serve … More Kurds will serve in the areas in northern Syria. More Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq to the south,” the US-led coalition said.
Some experts believe that the BSF is yet another step by the US to establish a semi-independennt Kurdish state in eastern Syria. On the other hand, Turkish officials and activists see the new force as a direct threat to Turkey as the US-led coalition openly said that it will deploy Kurdish fighters right on the Turkish border.
Ibrahim Kalin spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan condemned the US decision to establish the BSF and warned that the US is working to strengthen the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main part of the SDF, instead of weakening it.
“The USA is taking worrying steps to legitimize this organization and make it lasting in the region. It is absolutely not possible for this to be accepted,” Kalin said according to Reuters.
US President Donald Trump promised Turkey on November 24, 2017 that the US will end its military support for the YPG. However, since then the US has actually increased its support to the YPG and the SDF.