“France does not anticipate launching any military operations in northern Syria that fall outside the international coalition’s fight against Islamic State”, a French presidency source said on Friday.
The official’s remarks came a day after the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces said President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge of support to stabilize the region against Islamic State would include more troops.
Shortly before the Elysee official spoke, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said France’s offer of support for the Kurdish YPG militants, who form the largest contingent within the Syrian Democratic Forces, amounted to support for terrorists.
Emmanuel Macron had been criticized at home over his response to a Turkish military operation against YPG militants.
The group makes up a large portion of the SDF, which have been at the forefront of the U.S.-led coalition’s strategy to defeat the hard-line militants.
Macron met Thursday for the first time with a delegation that included the YPG, which Turkey is trying to sweep away from its border, its political arm the PYD, and Christian and Arab officials.
“The president paid tribute to the sacrifices and the determining role of the SDF in the fight against Daesh,” Macron’s office said in a statement on Thursday. “He assured the SDF of France’s support for the stabilization of the security zone in the north-east of Syria, within the framework of an inclusive and balanced governance, to prevent any resurgence of Islamic State.”
Former president François Hollande, who originally approved French support for the Kurds, bemoaned on March 23 Macron’s Syria policy, in particular his attitude to the YPG, accusing him of abandoning them.
Ankara considers the YPG to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the state within Turkey.