France, Arab League Warn Turkish Offensive In Syria Could Aid Islamic State
By RFE/RL October 12, 2019
France and the Arab League have called on Turkey to halt its military offensive in Syria.
French President Emmanuel Marcron said the action could lead to a resurgence of Islamic State activity.
Macron made the remarks in a telephone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, the French president's office said in a statement on October 12.
Macron stressed "above all else the need to avoid any resurgence of IS in the region," and to support the Kurdish forces who helped the U.S.-led military coalition retake Syrian and Iraqi territory from IS extremists.
The statement didn't say whether Macron urged U.S. forces to intervene.
Trump's decision to pull out of the region cleared the way for this week's Turkish offensive against Kurds in northeast Syria whom it sees as a threat.
Asked about word of a possible offer from Trump to mediate between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to stop Turkey's incursion in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Deutsche Welle that Ankara doesn't "negotiate with terrorists," Reuters reported on October 12.
"We don't mediate, negotiate with terrorists. The only thing to be done is for these terrorists to lay down arms," Cavusoglu said. "We tried the political solution in Turkey in the past and we saw what happened."
The head of the Arab League urged Turkey on October 12 to end its military action and pull out its forces from the war-ton country.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that Turkey's military operation in northern Syria has resulted in a new wave of displacement and jeopardizes "achievements" made in fighting the Islamic State extremist group.
Gheit called it an "invasion of an Arab state's land and an aggression on its sovereignty."
The comments come as Turkey's offensive entered a fourth day on October 12.
Later in the day, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the Turkish operation had revived IS and it urged allied countries that helped fight IS to close airspace to Turkish war jets.
"The Turkish invasion is no longer threatening the revival of Daesh [Islamic State], rather it has revived it and activated its cells in Qamishli and Hasaka and all the other areas," senior SDF official Redur Xelil said in a televised statement, according to Reuters.
He added that the SDF fighters were still cooperating with U.S.-led forces in the fight against IS.
Turkey's official news agency reported that Ankara-backed Syrian opposition forces reached a strategic highway in northeastern Syria that is about 30 kilometers south of the Turkish border.
The civilian death toll resulting from Turkey's offensive into northern Syria has risen to 30, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on October 12.
Turkey has said it aims to push back Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers terrorists for their links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.
Erdogan said on October 11 that Turkey won't stop until the YPG withdraw below a 32 kilometer deep line.
On October 12, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offered that his country, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, could mediate. He said Tehran could engage Syrian Kurds, Turkey, and Syria's government in talks toward establishing security along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, another Assad ally with military forces in Syria, told journalists from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ahead of a visit this week to those countries that all foreign forces in Syria without Syrian government approval should leave the country.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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