The Latest: Turkey's Erdogan to 'drown' Syrian Kurdish force
Jan. 15, 2018
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
1: 50 p.m.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing to "drown" a 30,000-strong border Syrian Kurdish border security force that the United States is setting up.
Erdogan accused its NATO ally U.S. of forming a "terrorist force" at Turkey's border. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish militia as a terror group, claiming it is affiliated with Turkey's own outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting against the government.
The Turkish president spoke at an opening in Ankara on Monday.
He says it's his government's "duty is to drown this terrorist force before it is born."
Erdogan also says Turkey's military deployed at the border with Syria is now striking Syrian Kurdish fighters heavy artillery, "at the moment hitting them with howitzers and we will continue to strike them."
The U.S-led coalition in Syria says it has recruited 230 new cadets for a border security force it's establishing together with the Syrian Kurdish-led opposition fighters to secure areas recently liberated from Islamic State militants.
The force will be tasked with securing Syria's northern border with Turkey and the eastern border with Iraq.
The coalition told The Associated Press on Monday that the goal is to have a 30,000-strong force over the next several years. Half of the force will be made up of fighters from the existing Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
The SDF currently controls nearly 25 percent of Syria's territory along the borders with Turkey and Iraq.
Turkey, which considers the main Kurdish militia in Syria an extension of its own insurgent group, has protested the new force.