French Soldiers Enter Parts of Northern Syria as US Troops Withdraw – Reports
French military personnel have been deployed to Syria and are now patrolling areas in northern parts of the country under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), according to reports by the Kurdistan 24 news agency, citing Rezan Gilo, the joint chief of defense of Syrian Kurdistan.
An unknown number of French troops reportedly entered the border town of Tell Abyad and the city of Manbij this afternoon after US troops withdrew.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to attack the city of Manbij and other parts of northern Syria after its successful cross-border military operation in Afrin.
On March 29, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to send troops to the area to deter any Turkish aggression, according to daily newspaper Le Parisien.
The newspaper also claimed that the deployment of troops from the French Army to Syria was being coordinated with the US, which already operates a number of military facilities throughout SDF-controlled parts of Syria.
This latest development seemingly indicates that US President Donald Trump was referring to France when he said the that the US would be leaving Syria very soon “to let others take care of it.”
Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was saddened by Macron’s “wrong stance” on Turkey’s anti-SDF operation in Syria, it’s unclear if he is willing to press ahead with the planned assault of other SDF-held areas near the Syria-Turkey border in light of the presence of French soldiers in the path of Turkish soldiers.
Turkey has long been hostile to the SDF, as it considers the group to be an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated a terror organization by the US, the EU and Turkey, and has fought a bloody war against Ankara for over three decades.
The Turkish military launched operation Olive Branch in January to oust SDF militants from areas in northern Syria near Turkey’s southern border. The offensive has yielded considerable territorial gains to Turkey-backed militants, who successfully pushed Kurdish forces out of Afrin and its surrounding settlements.