French troops operate in northern Syria: Kurdish Defense Official

A senior official in the Kurdish-run administration in northern Syria on Monday confirmed the presence of French forces in the region.
author_image Helbast Shekhani

QAMISHLO, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – A senior official in the Kurdish-run administration in northern Syria on Monday confirmed the presence of French forces in the region.

Rezan Gilo, the joint chief of defense in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), told Kurdistan 24 there are French and US troops in Manbij, Raqqa, and all over northern Syria.

“We tell of what we see on the ground, not the statements,” he said, responding to some reports denying the presence of those forces in Rojava.

“Sometimes the NATO states deny the existence of their forces in the region to avoid any tension, but, actually, French and US troops are operating on the ground in our region,” Gilo added.

Last week, Macron met a delegation containing senior officials of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are a leading component, and gave assurances of French support to stabilize northern Syria.

Khaled Eissa, a Kurdish official based in Paris, said Macron had promised to send French troops to Manbij to support the fight against the Islamic State (IS) and dissuade Turkey from advancing on the town.

France raised Turkey’s ire by meeting in Paris with a delegation that included YPG members that Turkey considers “terrorists.” Worsening matters, Macron offered to mediate between them.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said France had taken a “completely wrong approach” on Syria, adding that he exchanged heated words with his French counterpart last week.

Moreover, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the French stance was setting Paris on a collision course with Ankara.

TENSION WITH US

Turkey has long complained about US support for the SDF which Ankara considers “terrorists.”

But the US had always eased the tension after each incident that showed support for the YPG which Turkey considers a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), locked in a three-decade fight against the Turkish army.  

The White House said President Donald Trump— who said last week that the US would be “coming out of Syria very soon”—spoke to Erdogan on Friday “to discuss regional developments and the strategic partnership between the United States and Turkey.”

“The two leaders expressed support for continued efforts to increase cooperation between their two countries, to advance shared interests as NATO allies, and to work through issues that affect the bilateral relationship,” a White House statement said.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany