Syria – Turkey - Q&A - From the press briefing (14 October 2019)

Q - The Syrian Kurds appealed to the Damascus regime to counter the Turkish offensive; the U.S. is withdrawing 1,000 troops from the area. What will France do with regard to its “civilian and military” presence on the ground? Will it change its doctrine and bring its citizens home, including the families of jihadists and foreign fighters with Daesh?

A - I refer you to the communiqué issued after the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council:

“On October 13, the President convened the National Security and Defense Council to review the situation in northeastern Syria.

He emphasized that Turkey’s unilateral offensive may have tragic humanitarian consequences, lead to a resurgence of Daesh in the region, and result in the long-term destabilization of northeastern Syria. France condemns it in the strongest possible terms.

The following decisions were adopted:

  • Working closely with its partners in the coalition against Daesh and as part of the EU, NATO, and the UN Security Council, France will step up its diplomatic efforts to immediately end the Turkish offensive.
  • Measures will be taken in the coming hours to ensure the security of French military and civilian personnel who are in the area as part of the coalition against Daesh or humanitarian operations.
  • An emergency humanitarian response will be implemented to deal with the needs of the people of northeastern Syria.

The absolute priority must be to prevent the resurgence of Daesh in the region. The risk of escapes by imprisoned Daesh terrorists as a result of the Turkish offensive is being fully taken into account. Measures were also adopted to enhance homeland security in this context.”

Q - President Macron announced that France would step up its diplomatic efforts to end the Turkish offensive. When will the anti-Daesh coalition meet? What sanctions are being considered against Turkey, apart from the suspension of arms shipments?

A - France is stepping up its diplomatic efforts in coordination with its partners.

Today the minister is attending the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg.

As he said this morning, “This Council is meeting at a particularly serious time. It is serious because the Turkish offensive may result in the re-emergence of Daesh, it may lead to the resurgence of Daesh in various forms. In fact this has already begun, as there have been attacks in Raqqa and Qamishli. This is particularly serious because the now-threatened Syrian Democratic Forces are our allies, and have been our allies since the beginning in the fight against Daesh. And it is particularly serious because this offensive will bring about a real humanitarian disaster. There are already 130,000 refugees and displaced persons who are living in a state of anxiety. France therefore expects several things of this meeting. First, a condemnation of the Turkish offensive, and an express demand to end it. In particular, a strong position on arms exports to Turkey. And most especially, we hope this meeting will provide an opportunity to get the United States to convene a meeting of the international coalition against Daesh. Because we have been involved in the fight against Daesh since 2014, under U.S. leadership but with some 30 participating countries, including many Europeans. It is important for us to meet to assess the new situation, because for France, the main enemy remains Daesh.”