French troops arrive in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria
QAMISHLO (Kurdistan 24) – French troops have entered Syria to a US base in the Kurdish-controlled northeastern area (known as Rojava) from their former positions in Iraq, Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Friday.
The French troops reached the town of Remelan late Thursday night, AA reported.
The Turkish news agency added that the French troops are also operating in and around Manbij, Raqqa and Deir al-Zor where they frequently visit positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are the leading component.
French military personnel have also met with leaders of the Kurdish-led group, to which France has provided weapons and military equipment, AA reported, keeping their sources unidentified.
Rezan Gilo, the joint chief of defense in Rojava, told Kurdistan 24 in an earlier interview that there are French and US troops in Manbij, Raqqa, and all over northern Syria.
“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,” he said.
FIVE FRENCH BASES IN SYRIA
According to AA, the French military currently maintains a presence at five military bases in northern Syria in areas held by the YPG-led SDF.
“More than 70 French Special Forces units – working under the auspices of an international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) – are now deployed at the Lafarge Cement factory near Mistanur Hill and the village of Harb-Isk in the city of Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) in Syria’s northern Aleppo Province,” AA reported.
An airbase built by the US military in Harab-Isk is currently run by US military personnel operating under the coalition, while several French troops are also stationed there, AA said.
The Turkish media outlet added that over 30 French troops are also operating with the YPG in Syria’s northern city of Raqqa.
“Along with French Special Forces, the 1st Marine Infantry Paratroop Regiment and the 10th Paratroop Commando Force are also operating in the region,” it said.
While these forces are technically stationed in Iraq, they frequently cross into northern Syria via the Simelka border crossing.
Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron met a delegation containing senior officials of the Syrian Kurdish forces and gave assurances of French support to stabilize northern Syria.
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.
Moreover, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the French stance was setting Paris on a collision course with Ankara.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany