Pentagon allocates $550 million to SDF
The Pentagon has announced that it will allocate $550 million of its 2019 budget to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group that Turkey views as linked to a terrorist entity, the Turkish state-rune Anadolu Agency reported on Monday.
The budget will include $300 million to train and equip the SDF, and a further $250 million for a contentious “border force” that is being set up to guard the regional borders.
The United States sees the SDF as a multi-ethnic force that is an indispensable ally in the coalition against the extremist jihadist Islamic State (ISIS).
However, the force is organically linked to the predominantly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a group seen by Turkey as the Syrian wing of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The Turkish armed forces have been involved in decades of armed conflict with the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organisation by both Turkey and the United States.
Turkey is currently fighting the YPG in the northwest Syrian area of Afrin, in an operation that has sparked high tensions between the country and its NATO ally the United States, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to extend the operation to nearby Manbij, where U.S. troops are stationed.