Kurdish officials call for larger French role after US leaves Syria

Ilham Ahmed said France as a "NATO member has a moral obligation" to prevent Turkey from attacking Kurdish militants
Co-chairs of the Syrian Democratic Council Ilham Ahmed (left) and Riad Darar in Paris, on December 21, 2018. | Stephane de Sakutin, AFP
soL, AP, Reuters
Saturday, 22 December 2018 02:38

A senior Kurdish politician, Ilham Ahmed, Friday called on France to play a larger role in Syria following the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

Ahmed also claimed that the main Kurdish militants may no longer be able to hold the hundreds of IS militants detained in its prisons in northeastern Syria in the case of a Turkey's military offensive, noting they might head to Turkey or farther abroad from there.

"We fear things will get out control and we would no longer be able to contain them (IS militants) in the area, and this would open the door to their renewed spread and movement toward the Turkish border and from there to the rest of the world," Ahmed said.

She was in Paris as part of a delegation attending talks on the planned US military withdrawal from Syria and Turkey's warnings that it may launch a military operation against American-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria. The US-backed SDF founded in 2015. Its makeup largely consists of Kurdish YPG -YPJ militants, jihadist groups, smaller groups of Arab, Turkmen. 

The United States has about 2,000 troops in Syria, in areas under the control of Kurdish militants in the country. Many of the remaining US troops in Syria are special operations forces working closely with SDF and YPG. Trump reportedly made the decision during a phone call last week with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 


The Turkish president had announced plans last week to start an operation east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to oust the YPG from the area. This week, he said the campaign could come at any moment. But on Friday, he cited the talk with Trump as a reason to wait.

Ilham Ahmed said on Friday France as a NATO member has a moral obligation to prevent Turkey from attacking Kurdish militants. 

French presidency officials met representatives of the SDF in Paris on Friday and assured them of French support, an Elysee palace official said.

The delegation met with Macron's representative to Syria, Francois Senemand.

"The advisers passed on a message of support and solidarity and explained to them the talks France had with U.S. authorities to continue the fight against Daesh (Islamic State)," an Elysee official said.