US-led force trains up to 20,000 SDF terrorists
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US-led force trains up to 20,000 SDF terrorists

UK Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika says no increase in threats from Iranian proxy forces in Iraq, Syria

News Service AA

The U.S.-led coalition to defeat Daesh trained between 10,000 to 20,000 SDF forces in northeastern Syria, the coalition's deputy commander said Tuesday.

"We are wholly committed to supporting the SDF as they move into this phase, so that in partnership we can counter this threat from Daesh," British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika of Operation Inherent Resolve said in a news conference at the Pentagon.

The SDF is controlled by the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization in Turkey, the EU and the U.S.

The U.S. has supported the SDF in Syria, despite Turkey repeatedly raising security concerns after the announced withdrawal of American troops from the country in February, saying the pullout would give room to the PYD/YPG to expand operations.

Ghika did not go into further details, however, said the goal is to reach 40,000 SDF forces in northeast Syria.

Turkey has long criticized the U.S. working with the YPG/PKK for the purpose of defeating the Daesh terrorist group. Turkish officials argue that using one terrorist organization to fight another does not make sense.

- No increased Iran threat

The deputy commander also said there has been no increase in threats from Iranian proxy forces in Iraq and Syria.

"We are monitoring the Shia militia groups I think you’re referring to carefully. And if the threat level perceives to go up, then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly."

He stressed, however, the coalition is "a counter Daesh mission" and that Iran has "no part of our mission."

Ghika's comments are in contradiction with U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, who says there is an imminent threat from Iran.

Washington has since deployed a navy carrier strike group, bomber task force, and a Patriot missile system to the Middle East, citing the unspecified threat from Tehran.

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