France FM says okay for Syrian gov’t forces to partake in anti-ISIL fight
In what appears to be a shift of position on the Syrian government by Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said he believes it is okay for Syrian government forces to participate in the campaign against the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in Syria.
Speaking to French radio RTL on Friday, Fabius said that in the fight against Daesh, “there must be two measures: bombings… and ground troops who cannot be ours.” He said the ground forces should be made of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and “Sunni Arab forces” and can also be joined by Syrian government forces.
The Syrian government has been involved in fighting Daesh and other terrorist groups for a long time now; but the comments by the French foreign minister appear in stark contrast to the hardline view held by the French government against the government in Damascus.
Altering his position once again, Fabius later told AFP he did not mean that the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can join the anti-Daesh fight, but that, rather, the forces of a government formed “within the context of a political transition” in Syria can do that.
In his earlier remarks, the French foreign minister added that the Syrian city of Raqqah, which is under the control of Daesh, would be the main target of the offensive.
“For us it is one of the main military targets, even the main one, because it is the nerve center of Daesh, and the attacks against France were planned from there,” he said referring to the November 13 attacks in the French capital of Paris.
The attacks killed 130 people and injured some 350 others. Daesh claimed responsibility for the carnage.
France intensified its attacks – as part of a US-led coalition – against the purported positions of Daesh in Syria and Iraq in reaction to the Paris bloodshed, saying it hit targets in Raqqah among other places. The French military also deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The newly-deployed vessel has 26 fighters.
French President Francois Hollande also launched a diplomatic bid to build a broad military alliance against the terrorists.
In a move that seemed to sidestep the US-led coalition allegedly targeting Daesh in Syria and Iraq over the past months, the French president also traveled to and sought an alliance with Russia, which has been conducting an aerial campaign against Daesh and other terror groups in Syria since September 30 under a request by the Damascus government.
Hollande and President Vladimir Putin of Russia agreed on Thursday to coordinate strikes against Daesh and swap data to help identify the terror group positions in Syria.
France and its Western and regional allies have supported the militant groups fighting against the Syrian government over the past few years.