France asserts 'solidarity' with Turkey after Idlib strike

Telegram från AFP / Omni
28 febr. 2020, 16.32

France declared Friday its "solidarity" with Ankara after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's Idlib Province, and denounced what it called "repeated violations" of human rights laws by the Syrian government and key supporter Russia.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone after the deadly air strike.

"Russia must pursue talks with Turkey to secure a de-escalation in Idlib and allow a renewal of the political process" aimed at ending the nine-year-old conflict, Le Drian said.

The troop deaths have ratcheted up tensions between Turkey and Russia despite their 2018 deal to prevent an offensive by the Syrian government against rebels who have converged on Idlib.

Turkey has sought an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, and has warned EU nations that it would no longer stop the roughly 3.6 million Syrian refugees it has taken in from trying to get to Europe.

Le Drian said he had commended Ankara's efforts in handling the refugee crisis, and "I reiterated our determination to provide increased humanitarian assistance, in our national capacity and with the EU and its member states."

France's relations with Ankara have deteriorated markedly since last October, when Turkey launched a military offensive against the People's Protection Units (YPG), the US-backed Kurdish militia that led the fight against the Islamic State group.

Earlier Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after emergency talks that the alliance also offered solidarity with Ankara, but did not indicate any new measures to bolster Turkey's military in Syria.