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Turkey warns France against supporting Kurd militia

December 26, 2018

ANKARA: Turkey on Tuesday warned France against protecting a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria and said Ankara´s military power was enough to defeat the Islamic State after US troops withdraw.

Washington´s decision to pull out all 2,000 ground forces from Syria has stunned most allies, including France, but was greeted with approval by Turkey. Ankara believes its forces supporting Syrian opposition fighters will now have a freer rein to target Kurdish fighters from the US-backed People´s Protection Units (YPG).

"If France is staying to contribute to Syria´s future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militia), this will bring no benefit to anyone," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, according to Hurriyet daily.

Turkey views the YPG militia as a sister "terrorist" organisation of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers´ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the US and the European Union.

President Donald Trump last week ordered the withdrawal of US ground forces deployed in Syria to provide training to the YPG under the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance battling the Islamic State.

Cavusoglu told Turkish media during a briefing that Ankara has "the power

to neutralise (IS) alone" amid fears that a US pull-out will hurt the fight against Islamic State.