Hollande warns Russia over war with Turkey

French President Hollande urges Russia to stop air strikes in Syria, warns of risk of war with Turkey

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French President Francois Hollande attends a live prime time new broadcast fromt the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, February 11, 2016.

Updated Feb 20, 2016

French President Francois Hollande said on Friday that there was a risk of war between Turkey and Russia over Syria, adding that Russia should stop backing Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier on Friday that it intends to call a session of the UN Security Council to discuss Turkey’s statements about a possible ground operation in Syria.

"There is a risk of war between Turkey and Russia," Hollande told France Inter radio. "There is an escalation."

"Negotiations must resume, bombardments must stop, aid must come," he added.

Russian warplanes entered Syria's increasingly complex five-year-old conflict at the end of September and since then have been helping forces loyal to Assad, conducting thousands of air strikes against the opposition.

Recently, Russian air strikes hit a hospital supported by French medical charity organisation, Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the town of Idlib, on Monday Feb 15.

Russian air strikes hit five medical centres and two schools in opposition-held Syrian towns on the same day. Almost 50 civilians were killed and dozens of people injured.

"There must be pressure on Moscow so that we have negotiations," Hollande said in the radio interview. "Moscow will not succeed by unilaterally backing Bashar al-Assad," he added. 

Back in November, the Turkish military shot down a Russian jet breaching its airspace while on a bombing mission in Syria.

Hollande said that he had told Russian authorities, "You are not striking the right spots and you are striking civilian populations, which is unacceptable."

Turkey opposes the Assad regime in neighbouring Syria and worries about advances by YPG forces in the Syrian territory. YPG, which is linked to the PKK terror organisation, is considered to be a terrorist organisation by Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this week that, “Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some European allies want a ground operation in Syria but there is no consensus in the coalition and the strategy is not seriously debated.”

The Syrian regime and its allies, including Russia, must cease hostilities on Friday in line with an agreement reached between major powers on Feb. 11, French Foreign Ministry spokesman said earlier on Friday.

TRTWorld and agencies