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US-led coalition to build 30,000-strong border force in Syria

AFP  |  Beirut 

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said today it was working to create a 30,000-strong in northern Syria, drawing sharp condemnation from With the offensive against IS winding down, the coalition and its allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance were beginning to shift their focus to border security, coalition told AFP. "There is a goal of a final force of approximately 30,000," about half of whom would be retrained fighters, he said. "There are approximately 230 individuals that are training right now in the That's an inaugural class," Dillon said. Backed by the US-led coalition's air strikes, special forces advisers, and weapons, the has ousted IS from swathes of Its Kurdish and Arab members now control territory bordering to the north, to the east and Syrian forces to the west. reacted sharply to of the border force today, saying it would "legitimise a terror organisation". is fiercely opposed to the SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) - considered by the Turkish to be a "terrorist" group. "Rather than end its support to the PYD-YPG, these steps taken to legitimise a terror organisation and to make it permanent in the region are worrying," said Ibrahim Kalin, for "Accepting this state of affairs is absolutely not possible," Kalin added. Top media official confirmed the creation of the border force, and said training had already begun. "We are transitioning to a new phase of coordination between us and the international coalition," Bali told AFP. "The wide areas and cities that were liberated need someone to protect them." Bali said the new units would be deployed along the Turkish border and adjacent to territory held by Syrian troops, but did not immediately respond to a question on rules of engagement in those areas. has often targeted YPG positions in and on Sunday, Erdogan threatened to attack the Kurdish-held area of Afrin in "in the days ahead". The SDF's relationship with regime forces is less tense. Since last year, a "de-confliction line" cutting diagonally across has largely kept the two forces from clashing. There was no immediate reaction from the Syrian to the border force announcement. The coalition declined to comment on possible protocol when it came to Turkish or regime troops. Dillon said the force was primarily part of a broader strategy to "prevent the resurgence of IS". "With the fight against IS, as the remaining pocket continues to go away, we know that doesn't mean the end of Daesh," he told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS. "We'll have to make sure that there is security that can be maintained," he said. Dillon said troops in Syria's east were already coordinating with Iraqi forces across the border to target any "transient movement" by IS fighters between the two countries.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 15 2018. 01:00 IST