French Special Forces are working in tandem with the PKK-linked YPG terror group in northern Syria following Donald Trump's withdrawal call for US troops, sources on the ground told Anadolu Agency.
The French military has stepped up coordination with the PKK's Syrian affiliate YPG in the northern parts of the country held by the terrorist group, local sources told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU.
It has conducted an armed campaign against Turkey since 1984, and it is responsible for some 40,000 people killed in the clashes.
The US founded the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in 2015, a brand name mainly formed by YPG members, and continuously provided the group and its affiliates with arms, calling it an ally in the fight against Daesh.
After US President Donald Trump's call for the withdrawal of American troops late last month, leaders of the YPG met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
French media outlets later reported that France had promised to send troops to Syria’s northern Manbij region with the aim of supporting the SDF.
In previous statements, Macron had voiced hope that “dialogue” might be established between the SDF and Turkey “with the help of France and the international community.”
In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said, “If the remark [by the French presidency] that ‘We can mediate between Turkey and the SDF’ is true, it far exceeds the capacity of the person who said it.”
Entrance from Iraqi border
According to information obtained by Anadolu Agency from local sources, French Special Forces arrived at a US base in the YPG-held town of Rmelan – located in Al Hasakah province – late on Thursday.
According to the same sources, French military personnel frequently enter and exit Syria through neighbouring Iraq.
With the use of armored vehicles, French troops – with the knowledge of the US military and the YPG – are also operating in and around Manbij, Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, where they frequently visit positions of YPG terrorists.
French military personnel have also met with leaders of the YPG group, to which France has provided weapons and military equipment, the same sources said.
Presence at five bases
The French military currently maintains a presence at five military bases in northern Syria in areas held by the YPG, according to the same sources.
More than 70 French Special Forces units – working under the auspices of an international coalition against Daesh – are now deployed at the Lafarge Cement factory near Mistanur Hill and the village of Harb Isk in the city of Ayn al Arab (Kobane) in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, the sources said.
French forces, they added, are also conducting field operations alongside YPG members.
An airbase built by the US military in Harab Isk was later incorporated into the nearby cement factory.
The facility is currently run by US military personnel operating under the coalition, while a number of French troops are also stationed there.
Meanwhile, more than 30 French troops are also operating with the group in Syria’s northern city of Raqqa.
Along with French Special Forces, the 1st Marine Infantry Paratroop Regiment and the 10th Paratroop Commando Force are also operating in the region.
While these forces are technically stationed in Iraq, they frequently cross into northern Syria via the Simelka border crossing.