French President Francois Hollande has criticized Turkey’s “contradictory” military intervention in Syria and warned Russia not to become a “protagonist” in the war.
In a speech Tuesday, Hollande said “multiple, contradictory interventions carry the risk of a general inflammation” of the fighting that has devastated the country.
He said he could understand Turkey’s concern about protecting its borders and fighting the Islamic State group, but criticized Ankara’s actions against Kurdish rebels allied with the U.S.-led coalition who are fighting the extremists. France is part of that coalition.
Hollande urged Russia to cooperate with the U.S.-led coalition and said he would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to France in October, saying Russia should be “a player in negotiations, not a protagonist in the action.”
Hollande said Assad’s regime uses Russian military support to carry out bomb attacks on civilians, which “plays into the hands of extremists”.
Hollande said “the absolute urgency is a halt to fighting and a return to negotiations.” He also called for an “immediate truce” in the city of Aleppo, a main battlefield in Syria’s five-year civil war.
Turkey dramatically escalated its involvement in Syria’s civil war last week. Its military campaign aimed to help Syrian rebels drive the Islamic State group out of the border town of Jarablus, but was also directed against the U.S.-led allied Kurdish forces that have gained control of most of the territory along the Turkey-Syria border in recent months.
The subsequent fighting pits Turkey, a NATO ally, against a U.S.-backed proxy that is the most effective ground force battling IS militants in Syria.