Iran Accuses U.S. of Fanning Syria Flames With New Security Force Plan

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman says the planned Kurdish-led force is a 'blatant intervention' that will further complicate the conflict in Syria

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a summit of Islamic world leaders in Istanbul, Turkey on December 13, 2017.
Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/AP

Iran added its voice to criticism of a U.S. plan to form a new border security force in Syria, saying Tuesday that it will cause more instability and "add flames" to the war-torn country.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the planned Kurdish-led force will further complicate the conflict in Syria and is a "blatant intervention" in that country's internal affairs. Ghasemi's comments were carried by Iran's official IRNA news agency.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani later told the visiting Syrian parliamentary speaker that the U.S. plan is a "plot" against Syria's territorial integrity and security, according to comments posted on the president's website.

The new force announced by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group is adding to tensions between Turkey and its NATO ally.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday vowed to "drown this army of terror before it is born" and warned U.S. troops against coming between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces in Syria, which Ankara views as an extension of Turkey's own Kurdish insurgency.

Turkey has been threatening to launch a new military operation against the main Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People's Defense Units, or YPG, in the Kurdish-held Afrin enclave in northern Syria. The YPG is the backbone of a Syrian force that drove the Islamic State group from much of northern and eastern Syria with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes.

Russia has also criticized the nascent U.S. force and warned that it could fuel tensions around Afrin. Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, denounced the plan and said anyone who cooperates with this new force is a "traitor" whose fate will be defeat and death.

The U.S.-led coalition says the force, expected to reach 30,000 in the next several years, is a key element of its strategy to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State group in Syria and would be deployed along Syria's borders with Turkey and Iraq.

Some 230 cadets have already been recruited to the new border force, according to the coalition.

Elsewhere in Syria, two civilians were killed and three others were wounded by insurgent shelling of Aleppo city, the state-run news agency SANA reported.

It quoted the Aleppo Police Command as saying that "terrorists" in the western outskirts of Aleppo fired a number of shells, one of which fell on a kindergarten bus, killing the driver and a two-year-old child and wounding three teachers.

SANA also said a woman was killed and five civilians were wounded by two projectiles that fell on the town of al-Saan in central Syria.