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French defense minister says US conscious of need to protect Kurdish allies

2019/01/20 | 18:35

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Despite its decision to withdraw troops from Syria, the United States is conscious of the need to protect its Kurdish allies, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Sunday.

“The Kurds have been the best partners of the coalition,” Parly stated during a program which France Info, France Inter, and Le Monde newspaper hosted.

The French minister was referring to the US-led coalition which has provided support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the years-long war against the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

“This question about the necessity to protect them has been taken into consideration by the Americans,” she added.

Parly’s comments come after US Senator Lindsey Graham recently visited Turkey for extended talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on “a slower, smarter withdrawal of American troops from Syria.” While in Ankara, Graham affirmed that “the Kurds are well-thought of in America.”

Turkey opposes the presence of People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces, who make up a majority of the SDF, on its southern border. Unlike Washington, Ankara considers the YPG “a terrorist” group for its alleged close ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).  

US President Donald Trump’s surprise decision in December to withdraw US forces from Syria has alarmed Kurdish leaders who fear it would allow Turkey to launch an offensive against the YPG.

The decision has also raised criticism from America’s allies, including France.

French President Emmanuel Macron notably slammed Trump’s decision and affirmed that allies should not be abandoned.

“I very deeply regret the decision made on Syria,” Macron said while at a press conference in Chad on Dec. 24, 2018.

“To be allies is to fight shoulder to shoulder. It’s the most important thing for a head of state and head of the military. An ally should be dependable.”

France, a key member of the US-led coalition, has roughly 1,100 troops operating in Iraq and Syria who provide logistics, training, and heavy artillery support as well as fighter jets to strike Islamic State targets.

Its presence in Syria also includes dozens of special forces, military advisers, and some foreign office personnel.

On Thursday, Macron said France would “remain militarily engaged” in Syria over the coming year, reminding that the fight against the Islamic State is not over.







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