French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday met in Paris with representatives of the Kurdish-led force that defeated ISIS in Syria, sparking anger in Ankara.
Macron assured the Kurdish envoys of French support in their campaign against the remaining jihadists, but the Turkish government accused him of “seeking to confer artificial legitimacy on a faction of terrorist groups.”
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement, “We condemn the reception by French President Emmanuel Macron of a delegation of so-called ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ [SDF].”
In late March, the US-backed SDF flushed ISIS fighters out of their last stronghold in Syria, but the Kurdish-led force warns that the jihadists remain a threat in places.
The SDF are an umbrella Kurdish-Arab force dominated by Kurds from the People’s Protection Units (YPG). It is regarded with huge distrust by neighboring Turkey, which views the YPG as a terrorist group.
Macron assured the visiting SDF representatives, who were not named, of the “active support of France in the fight against Daesh, which continues to be a menace for collective security,” the presidency said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Particularly important is the support in the “handling of terrorist fighters held as prisoners along with their families.”
European capitals are keeping a watchful eye on the ISIS prisoners held by the SDF after the defeat of the jihadists, given that many are dual nationals.
Macron also vowed that financial support would be allocated to “respond to the humanitarian needs and the socio-economic stabilization of civilian populations in Syria.”
– with reporting by AFP