PARIS,— French President Emmanuel Macron is very worried at the prospect of a Turkish army operation into Syrian Kurdistan, the Kurdish areas in northern Syria, his office said Wednesday.
Macron met senior Syrian Kurdish official Ilham Ahmed at the Elysee Palace on Monday “to show that France stands alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as they are partners in the fight against Daesh (Islamic State group) and that we are very worried by the possibility of a Turkish operation in Syria,” a presidential aide told AFP.
The aide added that Paris would “pass on these messages” to the Turkish authorities.
Macron has on occasion irritated Turkey by hosting in Paris members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Council.
Ankara insists such groups are merely fronts for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), an arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-and-a-half decade insurgency against Turkey.
The Kurdish administration in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) in northeastern Syria called up civilians on Wednesday to defend the Kurdish region against a feared Turkish assault.
Ankara said Tuesday that it would “shortly” begin an offensive into northern Syria, as it sent more armoured vehicles to the border.
US President Donald Trump has sent mixed messages since a surprise announcement on Sunday that Washington was pulling back 50 to 100 “special operators” from Syria’s border with Turkey.
Kurdish forces took heavy losses in the US-backed campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria which they spearheaded.
11,000 Kurdish fighters had been killed in five years of war to eliminate the Islamic State “caliphate” that once covered an area the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq, Kurdish officials said.
The United States views the Kurdish YPG as a close ally in the fight against the Islamic State group.
The Kurdish PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, considered the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and U.S.
has provided them with arms. The YPG, which is the backbone of the SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.
The Kurdish forces expelled the Islamic State from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019.
Turkey fears the creation of a Kurdish autonomous region or Kurdish state in Syrian Kurdistan could encourage separatism amongst its own Kurds, according to analysts.
Syria’s Kurds have established a semi-autonomous region in northeastern Syria during the country’s eight-year war.
In 2013, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD — the political branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — has established three autonomous Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013.
On March 17, 2016, Kurdish and Arab authorities announced the creation of a “federal region” made up of those semi-autonomous regions in Syrian Kurdistan.
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