Iran slams US-backed 'border security force' in Syria
TEHRAN - Iran on Tuesday denounced a plan by the US-led coalition to create a 30,000-strong border force in northeastern Syria, saying it would complicate efforts to end the country's war.
"It is a clear intervention by the United States in the internal affairs of other countries, makes the Syrian crisis more complicated, creates more instability, and fans the flames in this country," state news agency IRNA quoted foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying.
On Sunday, the US-led alliance fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq said it was working with Arab and Kurdish fighters to establish a 30,000-strong Border Security Force (BSF) in Syria.
The BSF, expected to be set up over the next several years, would be responsible for preventing a "resurgence" of IS in areas where the jihadists had been cleared by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), it said.
Iran, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, has sent thousands of fighters to Iraq and Syria to battle IS as well as other Sunni jihadists and Syrian rebels.
Iranian "military advisers" have also played a major role supporting the Syrian regime.
Ghasami said the timing of the announcement was "significant" as it came "at a time when Syrian forces and their allies have achieved great victories in the fight against Daesh and Al-Nusra Front terrorist", referring to IS and the former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
IS has lost much of its strongholds in Syria, where the regime, backed by its Russian ally, has been pounding jihadists and rebels in the northwestern Idlib province.
Syria has condemned the coalition's "border security force" plan, and said any Syrian taking part would be considered as a "traitor".
Turkey has also reacted sharply, saying the border force would "legitimise a terror organisation".
Ankara is fiercely apposed to the SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), considered by the Turkish government to be a "terrorist" group.