Turkey warns France ‘no benefit’ in retaining troops in Syria

Turkey warns France ‘no benefit’ in retaining troops in Syria
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a “terrorist offshoot” of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 December 2018

Turkey warns France ‘no benefit’ in retaining troops in Syria

Turkey warns France ‘no benefit’ in retaining troops in Syria
  • Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a “terrorist offshoot” of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey
  • Paris announced it would maintain a presence despite Washington’s pull-out announcement

ANKARA: France will not gain in any way by retaining forces to protect a Kurdish militia in Syria, Turkey's foreign minister said on Tuesday, after Paris announced it would maintain a presence despite an imminent US withdrawal.
Washington's decision to pull out 2,000 of his ground forces from Syria has stunned most allies including France but was greeted with approval by Turkey, which 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," Mevlut Cavusoglu said, according to Hurriyet daily, in comments also partially carried by the state news agency Anadolu.
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.
US President Donald Trump last week ordered the withdrawal of US ground forces that had been in Syria to provide training to the YPG under the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance battling against Daesh.
The shock move put allies on the backfoot, with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday saying "an ally must be reliable".
In a sign of the growing diplomatic rift between the two leaders, Macron said "I deeply regret the decision" by Trump to pullout US troops.
Cavusoglu hit out at France's "support" of the YPG, which he said was "no secret" as he slammed French officials' meetings with leaders of the SDF's political wing last week.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will intervene in the coming months against Daesh and the YPG.
Cavusoglu said Turkey has "the power to neutralise (Daesh) alone" amid fears that a US pull-out will hurt the fight against Daesh.
Critics say thousands of Daesh members are still in Syria and could pose a threat with some analysts concerned the withdrawal could lead to a resurgence of Daesh.


Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
Updated 50 min 15 sec ago

Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Lebanon inks final deal for 2.1 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • The vaccines are expected to arrive in batches starting February
  • The ministry is also cooperating with the private sector to secure 2 million vaccine doses from Astrazenca and Sinopharm

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker health minister signed a final deal on Sunday to secure 2.1 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine as the country battles a steep rise in infections.
The vaccines are expected to arrive in batches starting February, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry is also cooperating with the private sector to secure 2 million vaccine doses from Astrazenca and Sinopharm, it added.
Lebanon is under a three-week lockdown that ends on Feb. 1 and a strict 24-hour curfew until Jan. 25 after lax measures over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period led to a spike in cases.
In addition to these deals, Lebanon has also signed up for 2.7 million doses to be delivered through COVAX, the global scheme backed by the World Health Organization to provide vaccines to poorer countries.