Turkey warns France against protecting Kurdish militia in Syria
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday warned France against protecting a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria while stating Ankara's military power was enough to defeat the Islamic State after U.S. troops withdraw, pro-government Habertürk news site reported.
The statements from Çavuşoğlu arrive following Washington's decision, announced last Wednesday, to pull out all 2,000 ground forces from Syria, in a move that has stunned the country’s allies, including France.
French President Emmanual Macron said he deeply regrets Washington's decision.
"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," the French President said.
Ankara, which announced a third military operation into Syria shortly before news of the U.S. withdrawal, maintains it will now be easier to target Kurdish militia from the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a group it designates a terrorist organisation and offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.
"If France is staying to contribute to Syria's future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militia), this will bring no benefit to anyone," Çavuşoğlu said.
Speaking to the Turkish media during a briefing Çavuşoğlu said Ankara has "the power to neutralise (IS) alone" amid fears that a US pull-out will hurt the fight against Islamic State.
The withdrawal of U.S. troops will grant Russia further power in the region, according to analysts.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said a Turkish delegation would head to Moscow, a strong force in Syria, to discuss the U.S. pull-out, noting that he expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to conduct talks about the issue.