Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday (15 January) accused the US of setting up a "terror army" on the country's southern borders with Syria. The Turkish president's comment comes after Washington publicly admitted that it is supplying weapons and providing training to the Kurdish militia forces, which Ankara regards are an extremist group.
Erdogan also warned that his military would "strangle" the US-backed YPG Kurdish forces before even they are fully ready.
On Sunday, 14 January, the Trump administration had revealed plans for establishing a "border force" in order to guard the areas controlled by Kurdish militia, who have played a major role in the anti-Islamic State operations in the region.
Washington's enhanced support to Kurdish fighters has angered Turkey as the issue has already been a thorn in the relations with the US losing favour in one of its Middle East's allies.
US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the anti-Isis operation Inherent Resolve, had announced that the final number of personnel will be about 30,000 once the units are fully operational. "Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF's [Syria Border Security Force] inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000," said the American official.
"These individuals will bring much-needed experience and discipline to the young force. To fill the other 15,000 positions, recruiting and training is underway," added Dillon.
Responding to the development, Erdogan said: "The US has admitted to building an army of terror along our national borders. It is our responsibility to suffocate this effort before it is born."
Referring to the Kurdish fighters, among whom there were many women, Erdogan added: "The name of this army should be the traitors' army. As soon as this 30,000 strong terrorist army comes under threat, they will be the first to turn their guns on the American soldiers."
Insisting that the US' actions are tantamount to breach of the territorial sovereignty of Turkey by the deployment of training personnel, Erdogan said he has the right to undertake any action to remove this threat. "We won't be responsible for the consequences," he warned.
Erdogan was not the only one to heap scorn on the US' announcement. While the Syrian government on Monday vowed to crush the new force and drive the US army from the country, Russia called the plans a plan to dismember Syria and place part of it under Washington's control, Reuters reported.