On December 26th, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency exposed French military bases in Syria, amid France’s claim that it would support the YPG/SDF following the announcement of the US withdrawal.
The People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are the core of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are considered terrorist organization by Turkey. Turkey deems the YPG an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it also deems a terrorist organization.
Due to France’s support in the wake of the US withdrawal, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported that France currently maintains 9 military sites in Syria, despite only having 200 troops on the ground.
“Only 200 French troops are now deployed in YPG/PKK-held parts of Syria east of the Euphrates River. French deployments there reportedly include artillery batteries, technical personnel and Special Forces units.
The media outlet claimed that France has turned a blind eye to radical leftist and anarchist groups fighting under the YPG/PKK’s banner, while some 50 French nationals are believed to be fighting within the group’s ranks.”
It also gave due credit, saying that French artillery batteries played a role in the US-backed forces’ capture of the town of Hajin in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province.
As for locations of the bases, Anadolu Agency reported that France backs the YPG/PKK under the pretext of the International Coalition against ISIS. For that purpose it maintains a presence in the northern town of Ain al-Arab (Kobani); the Mistanur Hill and Sarrin districts; the town of Ain Issa; the Lafarge concrete plant in the village of Harab Isk; the Raqqa military base; the Kahar military site; the Tabqa Airbase; and in parts of Manbij.
France reportedly has artillery batteries south of Deir Ezzor’s Kabiba Oilfield, whose auxiliary buildings house French military personnel. It has artillery batteries and has position Special Forces in and around the Kahar Oilfield in Deir Ezzor’s eastern Mayadin district.
“Four of these French military facilities are also manned by U.S. soldiers. At the remaining five, French troops can only ensure their continued mobility by relying on their U.S. counterparts — or YPG/PKK terrorists — for support.”
Providing the abovementioned, Anadolu Agency argued that it appears unrealistic that France will be “able to fill the gap” or step up its support of the YPG.
However, France is giving signal that it ends to possibly increase its presence. On December 20th, French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said that Paris planned to maintain its military presence in Syria “for now,” because “the fight against terrorism is not over.”
On the same day, French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted that ISIS is “weaker than ever. Daesh went into hiding and insurgency in the way it fights. Daesh has lost more than 90% of its territory. Daesh no longer has the logistics it could have”
1 – Daech est plus affaibli que jamais. Daech est passé à la clandestinité et en mode insurrectionnel dans sa manière de combattre. Daech a perdu plus de 90% de son territoire. Daech n’a plus de logistique comme il a pu en avoir.
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) December 20, 2018
She added that ISIS “was not removed from the map, nor were its roots, it is necessary to use military force to resolutely defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organization.”
On December 23rd, French President Emmanuel Macron urged “everyone not to forget what we owe them [i.e., the YPG/PKK].”
“An ally must reliable and act in coordination with other allies,” Macron also said.
On December 25th, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave a word of warning, that “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.”
Free Syrian Army commanders have also condemned France’s support of the YPG, according to Anadolu Agency.
“Operating within the framework of the International Coalition Against Daesh, France does not officially acknowledge its troop deployments in northern Syria.”
It appears that Turkey is absolutely set on dealing with the YPG and SDF, and will not let France get in its way.