Turkey an­grily re­jects French of­fer to me­di­ate with Syr­ian Kurds

Er­do­gan warns Macron of over­step­ping ‘his lim­its’ by host­ing a meet­ing

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

aid in Afrin, which the Turk­ish army and its Syr­ian op­po­si­tion al­lies claimed last week to con­trol af­ter driv­ing out YPG forces. Ac­tivists said 280 peo­ple were killed and more than a quar­ter of a mil­lion civil­ians have fled Afrin, but this was de­nied by Ankara.

Macron met for the first time on Thurs­day with an SDF del­e­ga­tion that in­cluded the YPG, its po­lit­i­cal arm the PYD, and Chris­tian and Arab of­fi­cials from north­ern Syria.

Er­do­gan said that those “who go to bed with ter­ror­ists, or even host them in their palaces, will sooner or later un­der­stand the mis­take they’re mak­ing.” He also said that Macron made “bizarre” com­ments dur­ing a phone con­ver­sa­tion last week that forced Er­do­gan to raise his voice and re­spond with a “high fre­quency.”

Paris de­nied on Fri­day that it would dis­patch troops to north­ern Syria fol­low­ing ear­lier spec­u­la­tion. The El­y­see state­ment said: “France does not fore­see any new mil­i­tary oper­a­tion on the ground in north­ern Syria out­side the anti-Daesh in­ter­na­tional coali­tion.”

Er­do­gan has said that Turkey is pre­par­ing to ex­tend op­er­a­tions along hun­dreds of miles of bor­der with Syria, rais­ing ten­sions with the US, which has 2,000 sol­diers sta­tioned in north­ern Syr­ian along­side the SDF, in­clud­ing in the town of Manbij.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ap­peared on Thurs­day to sig­nal the with­drawal “very soon” of US troops from Syria, tak­ing the Pen­tagon and State Depart­ment by sur­prise. US De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis said on Thurs­day: “The Turk­ish ac­tions in north­ern Syria — let me be spe­cific here — Afrin area have dis­tracted the (Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces) from the fight go­ing against the rem­nants of ISIS.”

Turk­ish an­a­lysts did not think France would sub­sti­tute its sol­diers should the US pull out. “Un­der such tense se­cu­rity cir­cum­stances for the re­gion, France can­not pre­serve the se­cu­rity of its own sol­diers in Manbij,” Oy­tun Orhan, a Syria an­a­lyst at the Ankara-based think tank ORSAM, told Arab News.

He in­ter­preted the French stance as want­ing to en­sure the YPG did not re­lease any Daesh-linked French fighters. “France does not want that these ter­ror­ists re­leased by the YPG for fear they can re­turn home and wage ter­ror at­tacks,” he said.

Turkey will host a tri­par­tite sum­mit on Syria with Rus­sia and Iran next week.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan ac­cuses French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron of over­step­ping ‘his lim­its’ and go­ing ‘over his head.’ (File/AFP)

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