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Macron Warns Turkey over Syrian Operation against Kurds

Macron Warns Turkey over Syrian Operation against Kurds

Wednesday, 31 January, 2018 - 11:30
French President Emmanuel Macron looks on as he addresses French ambassadors during the annual gathering of French diplomatic corps at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on August 29, 2017. AFP PHOTO

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Turkey that its operation against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria should not become an excuse to invade the country.

Turkey last week launched an air and ground offensive in northwest Syria, targeting the YPG in the Afrin region. That has opened a new front in the seven-year-old civil war and strained ties with Turkey's NATO allies.

"If it turns out that this operation takes a turn other than to fight a potential terrorist threat to the Turkish border and becomes an invasion operation, (then) this becomes a real problem for us," Macon said in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper published on Wednesday.

Macron told the daily that he would bring the issue up again with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that the nature of the operation meant there should be discussions between Europeans, but also more widely among allies.

The interview came as Ankara considers expanding the offensive against the YPG, which it sees as a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighting an insurgency inside Turkey.

The United States and France have armed and trained YPG-led militia in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Officials in the US-led international coalition against the terrorist group have warned that Turkey’s offensive in Afrin could destabilize recent gains against ISIS along the Iraq-Syria border in the Euphrates River valley.

But Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim defended the operation saying it was solely aimed at securing his country's security and protecting Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens from "terrorist organizations."

"If France is interpreting this issue as such (invasion operation), we need to assess what they have done in Syria accordingly," Yildirim said at a news conference in Ankara.

"This is a crooked idea from the start. The whole world knows that Turkey is not acting with an invasive mind. They should know it."

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