French troops have installed six artillery batteries to provide fire support to Kurdish militias in Syria, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported on May 20 citing local sources.
According to the report, the artillery positions are established in areas held by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The SDF is a US-backed group mostly consisting of Kurdish militais – the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ). Ankara describes the YPJ and the YPG as terrorist groups, a local branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which wages a long-time insurgency against the Turkish state.
According to reports, France has recently increased its military presence in the SDF-held area in northern Syria. French forces have even reportedly started preparations to establish a new military facility, west of Raqqah. If this is confirmed, it will be the sixth French military facility in the SDF-held area.
Anadolu Agency’s report comes just days after allegations that 20 vehicles carrying around 70 French servicemen reportedly entered the Syrian province of Hasakah from Iraq.