ADDS PENTAGON SPOKESMAN’S REMARKS
By Mohamad Misto and Levent Tok
TAL ABYAD, Syria (AA) - Nearly 1,000 PYD/PKK terrorists have been deployed in the town of Tal Abyad in Syria’s northern city of Raqqah following stepped-up U.S. reconnaissance activity in the area.
According to sources in Tal Abyad, columns of U.S. armored vehicles entered the town -- which remains under the control of the PYD/PKK, under the guise of the so-called SDF/PKK -- on Jan. 12 and 16.
The PYD/PKK deployment comes after U.S. armored vehicles carried out two days of reconnaissance activity along Syria's border with Turkey.
The PYD/PKK terrorists were deployed after U.S. forces scouted out both sides of Tal Abyad’s border crossing with Turkey's southeastern Sanliurfa province.
The terrorists were reportedly redeployed from the village of Ayn Isa south of the nearby city of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab in Arabic).
The PYD/PKK has reportedly dispatched reinforcements to 10 villages in the area, including Quneitra and Tal Fender near the Turkish border.
Meanwhile, Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, told Anadolu Agency on Friday: "We do not command or control PYD/YPG forces. We did not transport 1,000 PYD/YPG forces to Tal Abyad."
Galloway said the U.S. recognizes Turkey's security concerns about the PKK and stated that Washington does not provide any support to the PKK.
Asked whether he can confirm that a number of SDF forces were deployed to Tel Abyad from Kobani, Galloway said: "I cannot speak to movements of SDF forces, just U.S. forces."
The latest deployment has raised the average number of terrorists deployed in each of these areas from 15 to almost 100.
On Thursday, the Pentagon changed the name of a planned "border security force" tasked with training local security forces, saying that, rather, the U.S.-led coalition was training members of the PKK/PYD-led SDF to serve as a "stabilization force".
The name change followed an earlier announcement by coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon that the coalition planned to create a 30,000-strong force to police Syria's northern border.
On Wednesday, both the Pentagon and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed that the U.S. was not creating an "army" or "border force" per se.
The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Since the mid-1980s, the PKK has waged a wide-ranging terror campaign against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed.
More than 1,200 security personnel have been martyred since July 2015 when the group resumed its armed campaign against the Turkish state following a fragile cease-fire.
*Kasım Ileri from Washington contributed to this story.