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Iran Press TV

France urges Turkey to stop war in Syria, calls for UNSC meeting on 'humanitarian risks'

Iran Press TV

Sun Jan 21, 2018 03:17PM

France has strongly urged Turkey to end its major offensive in Syria and called for a UN Security Council meeting to be held on the "humanitarian risks" of the new military intervention in the war-torn country.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Sunday that "this fighting … must stop", adding that Turkey's newly launched offensive in northern parts of Syria could purportedly "deter Kurdish forces who are at the side" of the so-called US-led military coalition battling terrorists in the Arab country.

She also maintained that the "priority is the fight against terrorism" and consequently "anything that could deter" the Kurdish militia "of this battle is a bad thing."

In an interview with France 3 television, Parly also alleged that members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), against which Ankara has just entered an all-out war, had been a "crucial ally" in fighting terrorists such as those belonging to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

"What is essential is the fight against terrorism and all this fighting, notably the one which is taking place in a terrible fashion near Idlib and elsewhere, must stop," she added.

Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch on Saturday in a bid to eliminate the US-backed YPG, which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The operation was launched days after Washington said it would work with the Kurdish militants to set up a 30,000-strong border force near Turkish soil, a move that infuriated Ankara.

The YPG, which is operating under the larger US-backed Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia coalition, is purportedly fighting against terrorists without obtaining any official authorization from Damascus, which calls the forces "traitors" to the Syrian nation.

In late October last year and days after the SDF forces allegedly pushed Daesh terrorists out of the Syrian city of Raqqah, used to be Daesh's de facto capital for a couple of years, the Syrian foreign ministry said that the city was still regarded by Damascus as "an occupied city" and "cannot be considered liberated until the entry of the Syrian army."

Earlier in the day, Turkish media quoted Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim as saying that the military forces had entered the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Turkish village of Gulbaba at 0805 GMT on Sunday, the second day of the campaign, adding that troops also managed to hit over 150 Kurdish militant targets so far. However, the YPG dismissed Yildirim's claim, saying Turkish forces had tried to enter Afrin, but were forced back.

France calls for UN Security Council meeting

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for a UN Security Council meeting over "humanitarian risks" as fighting escalates in the Arab country.

"France is very preoccupied by the situation in Syria and by the brutal degradation of the situation," he added, during a visit to Algeria, on the sidelines of a meeting for western Mediterranean countries.

"This is why we have called for a Security Council meeting to evaluate all the humanitarian risks, which are very serious," Le Drian said.

Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin region is Turkey's second major military intervention in Syria during an unprecedented foreign-backed militancy that broke out in 2011.

In August 2016, Turkey began a unilateral military intervention in northern Syria, code-named Operation Euphrates Shield, sending tanks and warplanes across the border. Ankara claimed that its military campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces, who were themselves fighting Daesh.

Turkey ended its military campaign in northern Syria in March 2017, but at the time did not rule out the possibility of yet another act of military offensive inside the Arab country.

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