By Safvan Allahverdi / Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) - The Pentagon finally admitted the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition will enable a border security in Syria, but the main focus will be on the Iraq-Syria border, a spokesman said Tuesday.
"[The] DOD requests $250M for border security in order to degrade the flow of [Daesh] and other violent extremists, illicit weapons, as well as narcotics smuggling," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Anadolu Agency.
Rankine-Galloway's remarks follow a story from Anadolu Agency on the 2019 fiscal year U.S. defense budget proposal that aims to fund a PYD/PKK-led SDF's border security force under the counter-Daesh campaign.
The Pentagon has denied the U.S. is enabling a border security force under the PYD/PKK-led SDF. It was revealed the Defense Department seeks to allocate the money for "border security requirements" in Syria.
Also, the department's leading inspector general report for October-December 2017 disclosed last week revealed that the PYD/PKK-led SDF has begun training a border security force, internal security force and explosive hazard reduction specialists.
Being contradicted by the U.S. government documents, the Pentagon is now in an effort to avert further tension with it’s NATO ally, Turkey, that opposes the U.S. support to the PYD/PKK under the name SDF.
"The most pressing border-security need is on the Iraq-Syria border, where ISIS fighters were previously able to move with impunity," Rankine-Galloway added.
He said the U.S. is going to "identify any gaps in border security" in Syria and provide support to deal with those gaps, noting the U.S. continues to train local forces but he denied it was a regular army or a conventional border guard force.
Anadolu Agency was first to report the PYD/PKK-led SDF is creating a border security force in Syria. The story was later confirmed by coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon and caused significant tension between Ankara and Washington.
The PKK, a designated terror group by Turkey, the U.S. and EU, has waged a decades-long terror campaign in Turkey that has killed more than 40,000 victims.
The terror group continues its armed campaign alongside its extension in Syria, the PYD.
Rakine-Galloway also touched on the Pentagon's request for $300 million for a train and equip program in Syria.
"Train and equip funding is designated to secure and defend territory previously controlled by [Daesh]," he said.
If approved by Congress, the U.S. would provide a $550 million to Syrian groups, including the PYD/PKK-led SDF.