Nothing justifies keeping Turkish troops deep inside Syria – France

France said on Tuesday that Turkish border security concerns do not justify the maintaining of troops deep inside Syria and it warned Ankara it was violating UN Security Council Resolution 2401 on a daily basis.

The UN text, sponsored by Kuwait and Sweden, called weeks ago for an immediate, 30-day, truce in “all Syrian territory, and this is being violated day after day,” French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said Parliament.

“The position of France is very clear, even if the concern of Turkey to assure the security of its border is understandable, nothing can justify it maintaining (troops) deeply and durably on Syrian territory,” she added.

She said there were added concerns for France since the Turkish capture of Afrin on March 18 and these were largely humanitarian, with the pursuit of Turkish operations in the zone of Tall Rifaat, where 75,000 civilians have taken refuge.

France has publicly told Turkey about it humanitarian concerns in Kurdish areas being overrun by its troops, beginning with Afrin, which provoked 100,000 refugees, the minister noted.

Loiseau also expressed concern that the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS) was being weakened by the Turkish operations which were distracting from the priority of fully defeating IS.

The Kurdish forces being attacked by Turkey were a key element in the Coalition to defeat IS and brought “decisive support” in the fight against the terrorist group, Loiseau remarked.

“The absolute priority of the international community must be to pursue this fight,” she urged.

French President Emmanuel Macron called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan three days ago to stress the need for humanitarian access to the Afrin and other zones in northern Syria and to affirm that “the absolute priority is the fight against Daesh (IS)”, the Presidential office at Elysee Palace said.

Macron also agreed the same priority in a phone call Tuesday with US President Donald Trump.

“We need the Kurds to fight against Daesh (IS).” Loiseau told the Parliament, adding “only a political solution that includes, notably, the Kurds, is likely to ensure stability in Syria and the security of its neighbours and our own.”

Source: Kuwait News Agency