Thu. Jun 27th, 2019

Despite Washington talks, France still unclear over US Syria plans – Middle East Monitor

2 min read

France, one of the main contributors to the fight against Daesh in the Middle East, has received no answers to questions about the US calls for it and others to help secure northeastern Syria, its foreign minister said on Wednesday, reports Reuters.

Defence Minister Florence Parly was in Washington on Monday aiming to get details from US officials over an idea to set up and observe a safe zone being negotiated for northeastern Syria.

That followed US President Donald Trump’s decision in December to withdraw the bulk of his 2,000 troops in Syria after the defeat of Daesh militants.

READ: US military plans to keep 1,000 troops in Syria

“Mrs Parly went to the United States to start talking to the Americans and try to get answers to various questions: If by chance the American military presence would be maintained? What would be the contours of its presence? What would be the mission? What would be the capabilities?” Le Drian said.

“We do not have these answers yet…It is on the basis of information that we don’t have yet that President Macron will determine the possibility of a French contribution.”

Since Trump made his announcement, advisers have convinced the US president to leave about 400 US troops, split between two different regions of Syria.

It wants about 200 US troops to join what Washington hopes will be a total commitment of about 800 to 1,500 troops from European allies, which are to set up and observe a safe zone being negotiated for northeastern Syria.

However, the idea has met scepticism from Washington’s European allies, and foremost from France, which has 1,200 troops primarily based in providing air strikes, artillery support and training in Iraq. It also has an unspecified number of special forces in Syria.

OPINION: What does the US withdrawal from Syria mean?

Le Drian said Daesh’s last Syrian pocket in Baghouz would fall imminently, but that militants were now going underground and fleeing to other countries, including Afghanistan.

“We can’t envisage abandoning those that were our best allies fighting Daesh on the ground,” Le Drian said, referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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