ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria is not over, and the Kurds should be protected, French President Emmanuel Macron told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Wednesday.
According to a statement from the Elysee Palace, Macron underlined “the need to recognize the rights of local populations and to ensure forces allied with the [US-led] coalition, notably the Kurds,” are protected given their ongoing efforts in the fight against IS.
Turkey continues to threaten another operation against the Syrian Kurds in the east of the Euphrates. Senior Syrian Kurdish officials fear this could lead to major displacement, and destabilize the region.
Macron stated that France’s priority in Syria “is the fight against terrorism, in order to eradicate [IS] and counter any resurgence of terrorism in the region,” the statement added.
“This fight is not over and continues on the ground as part of the International Coalition.”
The French president emphasized the need to avoid any further destabilization that could fall into the “interests of terrorists.”
France has earlier revealed its intention to remain in Syrian regions liberated from IS following US President Donald Trump’s announcement in December that he would withdraw troops from the country.
Many analysts fear an early US departure would create a security vacuum and undo the progress made against the extremist group.
On Dec. 23, Macron expressed his disappointment with his American counterpart’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
During a visit to Jordan on Tuesday, France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly said it might be impossible for Paris to continue its mission after a possible Washington withdrawal.
According to Le Figaro, which reported from Jordan, Parly confirmed that “without the Americans, who carry out 90 percent of the strikes – plus their contribution in terms of intelligence, air-to-air refueling, and bombardment guidance – the mission could become quite complicated, almost impossible.”
The co-leaders of the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) political branch, met with advisors to the French president in December.
Ilham Ahmed, the co-head of the SDC, told the Defense Post after returning to Syria that French officials were receptive to their request for a no-fly zone over northern Syria, but said they needed to consult with the European Union and gain Washington’s permission first.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany