BEIRUT, Lebanon — A plan to create a new American-backed, Kurdish-led border force in northeastern Syria has raised alarms in the region that the United States may be helping to cement an autonomous Kurdish enclave that could further divide the country.
The 30,000-strong force, vehemently opposed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and the Syrian government, could also ignite a new phase in the war that could pit American allies against one another and draw the United States deeper into the conflict.
While Kurdish and American officials sought to tamp down the controversy on Tuesday, insisting that the force was really nothing new, they confirmed some of the fears.
They said the border force will help defend and preserve the section of northeastern Syria controlled by the Kurdish-led, United States-backed militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, an area that has become a de facto semiautonomous zone. And they said that the United States was committed to backing the force for at least two years.