France will keep its forces in Syria, despite the U.S. decision to pull its troops out of the war torn country, France’s European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on December 20.
“For now, of course we are staying in Syria because the fight against Islamic State is essential,” Hurriyet Daily News quoted the French minister as saying on the CNews TV.
Following Loiseau’s announcement, France’s defense minister said that ISIS has not been defeated yet. The statement appears to be a response to U.S. President Donald Trump, who claimed a day earlier that the terrorist group was defeated.
“ISIS has been weakened more than ever, but it has not been wiped from the map nor has its roots. It is necessary that the last pockets of this terrorist organization be definitively defeated militarily,” defense minister, Florence Parly, said on Twitter.
Paris, which was reportedly surprised by the U.S. decision, will try to “ensure the security” of the Syrian Kurds who fought with the US-led coalition against ISIS, according to Agnes Von der Muhll, a spokesman for France’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“The United States must take the protection of the populations of northeastern Syria and the stability of this area into consideration in order to avoid any further humanitarian tragedies and any return by the terrorists,” the Washington Examiner quoted the French diplomat as saying.
The France-Press Agency (AFP) said that two senior commanders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Riad Darar and Ilham Ahmed, will visit Paris on December 21 and hold talks on the U.S. withdrawal from Syria.
Local observers believe that France is trying to take advantage of the situation and replace U.S. forces in northeastern Syria. A task that Paris will likely fail to achieve on its own due to the complexity of the situation in Syria.