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Blindsided US ally France to stay in Syria, Britain says ‘much remains to be done’

By Rudaw 20/12/2018
French soldiers pictured north of Mosul, northern Iraq, July 2017. Photo: Fadel Senna / AFP
French soldiers pictured north of Mosul, northern Iraq, July 2017. Photo: Fadel Senna / AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – France will not pull its forces out northeast Syria, a French minister said Thursday, after US President Donald Trump announced the immediate and complete withdrawal of American troops supporting Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS. 

Several reports indicate Paris and London were not consulted before Trump’s announcement, nor were senior officials in the US administration. 

“For now of course we remain in Syria,” French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau told CNews, according to AFP. “The fight against terrorism is not over.”

“It’s true that the coalition has made significant progress in Syria, but this fight continues, and we will continue it,” she added.

Florence Parly, the French defence minister, tweeted ISIS “has not been wiped of the map, nor have its roots.”

“We must definitively defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organization,” she added.

Contradicting Trump’s claim that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, the British government has also warned the fight is not over. 

“The global coalition against Daesh has made huge progress,” the UK government said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“Since military operations began, the coalition and its partners in Syria and Iraq have recaptured the vast majority of Daesh territory and important advances have been made in recent days in the last area of eastern Syria which Daesh has occupied.

“But much remains to be done and we must not lose sight of the threat they pose. Even without territory, Daesh will remain a threat,” it added.

Retweeting Trump’s claim the group has been defeated, Tobias Ellwood, a junior defense minister in the UK government, said: “I strongly disagree. It has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive.”

A small number of French and British special forces are operating in northeast Syria alongside 2,000 American troops. 

Both France and Britain have provided the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with air support in their effort to dislodge the last remnants of ISIS from its holdout in Deir ez-Zor. 

The continued presence of French forces could dissuade Turkey from launching a fresh offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – a Kurdish force that makes up the backbone of the US-backed SDF. 

Erdogan warned on Wednesday last week he would deploy troops east of the Euphrates to fight the YPG, which it considers an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group fighting for greater Kurdish political and cultural rights in Turkey.

Ankara launched a similar offensive against the YPG in the northwest Syrian canton of Afrin at the start of 2018.


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KZ | 20/12/2018
Keep trusting the west like you trusted Trump the so called "savior" of Kurds. To trust work and rely on west brings punishment with it.
Hama | 20/12/2018
France and UK blindsided my ass. They blame America yet they are no different. The same non-intervention foreign policy from America was championed by Europe more than anywhere else. If they really wanted to stop immigration and terrorism like the one last week at the Christmas market, the hard but only solution is long term full involvement and intervention in the region to protect the civilian population so they don't have to flee to Europe and prevent the circumstances that give birth to the kind of terrorism we see so much in Europe. But west is too shortsighted beyond belief.
walter | 21/12/2018
If the various kurd factions would put aside their differences and cooperate, they would not need outside help. Nobody wants to side with a bunch of uncooperative squabblers. Kurds, you know what needs to be done.
Chris Tregenna | 22/12/2018
This is one part of Trump's withdrawal from the outside world ["Make America Great Agains"]. So it's time for the Europeans to step in and fill the gap: France [the ex-colonial power, and therefore distantly responsible for the present mess], the UK and Italy. The requirement is the same: a "Tripwire Force" with effective anti-aircraft and anti-armour defence, to protect the Syrian inhabitants from another Turkish invasion.
From the US | 22/12/2018
Just putting this out there for you guys- most Americans don't understand who the Kurds are or what they've been through, and I've been trying to educate people on the threat of new violence in Syria if Turkey is allowed to make further excursions into Syria. I can't educate an entire nation on my own though, please forgive us if our country fails you. People don't know enough about foreign affairs to know that Turkey holds dangerously bigoted views on Kurds and can't be trusted to not harm innocent people in northern Syria. I'm not Kurdish so I'm quite sure I'm not being biased in thinking there is a very real threat. I'm sorry.

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