August 30, 2016 / 10:11 AM / 3 years ago

France says Turkish action against Syrian Kurds risks escalation

French President Francois Hollande waits for a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - Turkey’s military push against Kurds in northern Syria risks escalating the conflict, French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday, calling on all parties to stop fighting and return to peace talks.

Hollande told an annual gathering of French ambassadors that almost a year after Russia intervened in support of Bashar al-Assad’s government, “today it is Turkey that has made the choice to deploy its army on Syrian territory to defend itself against Daesh (Islamic State).

“But also to carry out actions against Kurds who themselves have confronted Islamic State with the support of the coalition. These multiple, contradictory interventions carry risks of a general flare-up,” Hollande said.

The United States scrambled on Monday to get its feuding allies, Turkey and the Kurdish YPG militia, to focus their firepower on Islamic State instead of each other, after clashes that have threatened to unravel America’s war strategy in Syria.

Hollande, who has special forces operating in Syria alongside Kurdish and Arab forces as part of an international coalition fighting the militant group, said it was a matter of absolute urgency to stop the bloodshed.

As part of those efforts, Paris wants a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and Islamic State.

Hollande said Russia, Assad’s main backer, could not ignore the use of such weapons and had to support the resolution, which could then lead to a resumption of peace talks.

“The regime and its foreign backers still believe today in a military solution when the solution can only be political,” Hollande said.

He added that he would push Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue when they meet at the G20 next week and when Putin visits Paris in October.

Reporting by Andrew Callus and John Irish; Editing by Ingrid Melander, Larry King

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