French President Francois Hollande warned Tuesday that “contradictory interventions” by Turkish and Russian forces in Syria could spark an escalation of the conflict.
“These multiple, contradictory interventions carry the risk of a wider conflagration,” Hollande told a meeting with the diplomatic corps in France, calling for an “absolutely urgent” halt to fighting after Turkey attacked a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria.
“Syria has been living a terrible tragedy for the past five years,” Hollande said.
He said the country’s shattered second city Aleppo had endured a “large-scale humanitarian catastrophe”.
Calling for an “immediate” ceasefire, he added: “For nearly a year, Russia has been supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who is using this support to bomb rebels as well as civilian populations, which plays into the hands of extremists of all kinds.”
He said it was “perfectly understandable” for Turkey to seek to defend itself against the Islamic State group “after the attacks that this country suffered, and to control its border” with Syria.
However, Hollande said Turkey was now also carrying out “actions against Kurds who are themselves fighting ISIL with the support of the (US-led) coalition.”
Turkish forces last week launched a two-pronged operation against ISIL and Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) inside Syria.