DoD watchdog confirms training of Syria border force

DoD watchdog confirms training of Syria border force

PYD/PKK, known as SDF, train internal border security forces and explosive hazard reduction specialists in Syria

By Safvan Allahverdi

WASHINGTON (AA) – A Department of Defense watchdog report released Monday confirmed that the U.S.-backed PYD/PKK-led SDF continues to train a border security force despite repeated denials from the Pentagon.

"The SDF (PYD/PKK) were beginning to train internal security forces, border security forces, and explosive hazard reduction specialists and have drawn up plans to restructure their counter terrorism forces," according to the quarterly Lead Inspector General report to Congress.

The report also indicated that the U.S.-led Coalition has trained more than 11,000 SDF members out of a total of 12,500 members of "Syrian opposition groups" since late 2016.

The U.S. has supported the PYD/PKK under the name of the SDF, which is considered by Ankara to be the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group that has waged a more than 30-year brutal war against the Turkish state.

American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara as Washington views the SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey.

Beside the training to be given to the SDF, it said the U.S. continued to equip the group but had taken measures to track the transfer of equipment allocated for the YPG -- a part of the PYD/PKK -- in particular to try to ensure that materiel provided to the YPG is used for its intended purposes.

Stating that the SDF was also trained for providing security in areas that were seized from Daesh, it added there are more than 3,000 trained SDF members in Syria's city of Raqqah.

The U.S.-led coalition, officially known as Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), last month said it was creating a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria along Turkey's border.

After strong objections by Turkey, the Pentagon appeared to back off somewhat from plans for the Border Security Force, comprised of local security forces trained in Syria, saying the U.S.-led coalition is training the PKK/PYD-led SDF as a "stabilization” and “hold force".

But the Pentagon still plans to establish and fund the group, according to a budget proposal that asks for $250 million for “border security requirements related to the counter-[Daesh] mission" in Syria.

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