US President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Syria is unfolding as Pentagon on Sunday said that it will be raising a 30,000 strong Border Security Force (BSF) in the northern part of Syria. The new announcement, which raises questions whether Trump is attempting to divide Syrian territory, comes days after US sources claimed that Trump regime will soon recognise the Kurdish controlled areas in Syria.
The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the SDF to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS [Islamic State] draw to a close,” the Coalition’s Public Affairs Office told Reuters in an email.
In an earlier report, an unnamed senior official in Washington said that in northern Syria's eastern Euphrates area, US will be engaged in initiatives including empowering local councils, supporting reconstruction efforts, assisting in training of government agency workers, strengthening public services and infrastructure, protecting opposition areas and engaging in the maintenance of military bases, all of which will eventually lead to diplomatic recognition.
Kurdish forces are in control over the de facto autonomous region ‘Rojava’ since 2013 amid the conflict in Syria. The new strategy to raising a border force and establishing US diplomatic relations, according to experts, is de-facto pushing towards considering the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controlled areas as ‘sovereign’.
“[It] is fairly clear picture of what the US agenda for Syria now is: with ISIS being on the verge of defeat, I think it has become clear that you do have a project of partitioning Syria,” said Ali Rizk, Middle East expert.
“When they say a border force – ‘border’ is a term which is applied to sovereign states – so, what they are trying to do, it seems, is to build a state within a state – a small state within the wider Syrian state.”
Many critics claim that the move, which could further destabilise the region, is a new version of earlier US strategy in Syria that raised and trained the Syrian rebel forces against President Bashar Assad.
The Russian foreign ministry said that with creating such a force Washington is attempting to “achieve their geopolitical goals, escalate tensions, and, probably, attempt to overthrow the legitimately elected president Bashar Assad.”
Meanwhile, Damascus has raised an objection to the US troops operating in Syrian territory, including Rojava, and said that American presence does not accord with the principles of international law, including respect for Syria's territorial integrity.
The BSF, according to sources, will be deployed along the border with Turkey to the north, the Iraqi border to the southeast, and along the Euphrates River Valley.
The US has a long history of involvement in Syrian issue, with Washington attempting to overthrow the Assad government. The conflict escalated to full-blown civil war as the US and Saudi Arabia began arming and training the anti-Assad rebels, Free Syrian Army.
A recent study by London based Centre for Armament Research (CAR) said that a large number of the US and Saudi Arabia supplied weapons, including anti-armour weapons, to the Syrian opposition forces were diverted to Islamic state forces.