French President Francois Hollande warns that “contradictory interventions” by Turkish and Russian forces in Syria could spark an escalation of the conflict.
Hollande: Turkey’s Syria operation could spark escalation
Syria-Turkey-conflict-France,lead Turkey’s Syria operation could spark escalation: Hollande PARIS, Aug 30, 2016 (AFP) – French President Francois Hollande warned Tuesday that “contradictory interventions” by Turkish and Russian forces in Syria could spark an escalation of the conflict. “These multiple, contradictory interventions carry the risk of a wider conflagration,” Hollande told a meeting with the diplomatic corps in France, calling for an “absolutely urgent” halt to fighting after Turkey attacked a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria. “Syria has been living a terrible tragedy for the past five years,” Hollande said. He said the country’s shattered second city Aleppo had endured a “large-scale humanitarian catastrophe”. Calling for an “immediate” ceasefire, he added: “For nearly a year, Russia has been supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who is using this support to bomb rebels as well as civilian populations, which plays into the hands of extremists of all kinds.” He said it was “perfectly understandable” for Turkey to seek to defend itself against the Islamic State group “after the attacks that this country suffered, and to control its border” with Syria. However, Hollande said Turkey was now also carrying out “actions against Kurds who are themselves fighting IS with the support of the (US-led) coalition.” Turkish forces last week launched a two-pronged operation against IS and Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) inside Syria. The military action began after 54 people were killed in a weekend suicide attack in the city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border that was blamed on IS. The YPG is the main component of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which have been fighting IS in northern Syria. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 40 civilians were killed on Sunday in Turkish shelling and airstrikes, claims that were strongly rejected by Ankara. Ankara said it killed 25 Kurdish “terrorists” in strikes on YPG positions that day — meaning the two US-backed partner forces were fighting each other. ha-cf/gd/gj/ser