ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday promised a delegation of the local administration and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) he hosted in Paris of his government’s active support in their fight against the Islamic State, “which continues to be a menace for collective security.”
Visiting dignitaries included several representatives from northeastern Syria such as Kino Gabriel, the spokesperson of the SDF, senior Kurdish official Badran Ciya Kurd, Co-head of the Raqqa Civil Council Layla Mustafa, Commander Nesrin Abdullah, and Abdul Hamid al-Muhabash, the co-chair of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) in northeastern Syria.
The French president praised the decisive role played by the SDF, supported by US-led coalition forces, in their victory over the Islamic State, a statement released by the French presidency said. Mentioned specifically was the role the SDF played in the liberation of Baghouz, the extremist group’s last territorial stronghold, liberated on March 23.
President Macron also paid tribute to the heavy toll paid by the SDF and the people of the region.
According to the SDF and the local administration, at least 11,000 fighters were killed and 22,000 injured in the fight against the Islamic State.
On Tuesday, a US State Department spokesperson affirmed that US troops would remain as part of a multinational force in the planned safe zone in northeastern Syria, even after the bulk of US forces are withdrawn. It’s expected that France and the UK will make up a significant portion of the troops that will remain.
Macron assured the SDF and the local administration of the continued support of France against the Islamic State, including the management of captured foreign fighters and their families, an issue that has proven difficult to resolve.
The SDF has detained over 9,000 Islamic State fighters, including over 1,000 of the foreigners who traveled to Syria to join in the group's now-defunct self-proclaimed caliphate, CNN reported.
“We have called on the international community to support the formation of an international criminal court in the autonomous regions of northern and eastern Syria to try these mercenaries, according to international law and conventions,” Abdul Hamid al-Muhabash, the co-chair of the Democratic Autonomous Administration, said in a press conference following the meeting, as reported the Hawar News Agency (ANHA).
“[This is] because they committed their crimes on Syrian territory.”
Macron said that Paris would also invest in the stabilization of northeastern Syria and give financial support to meet humanitarian needs and socio-economic stabilization programs for the civilian population.
He continued by stressing the need for inclusive governance that would include all components of the Syrian people in the region to ease tensions between them, adding that France is committed both to Turkey’s security and its de-escalation along the Syrian-Turkish border.
“We in the Autonomous Administration support this security [on the border] because we would like to have a good neighborly relationship with Turkey,” al-Muhabash said.
Macron also recalled France’s earlier commitment to an inclusive political solution to the Syrian conflict, “in the framework of UNSC Resolution 2254, the only one capable of guaranteeing the stability and integrity of Syria.”
Editing by John J. Catherine