A commander of a PKK-affiliated group confirmed Tuesday that a number of French soldiers were serving in northern Syria alongside members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
"You can't see this in official statements. We are saying what we saw," said Rezan Gilo to Irbil-based Kurdistan24 TV, a commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is predominantly led by the PKK- affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG).
Gilo said the French troops, along with U.S. forces, are in Manbij, Raqqa and other parts of northern Syria under SDF control. He added that NATO countries refute this claim because they do not want tensions among members.
A statement from the French president last week that said President Emmanuel Macron hopes "a dialogue can be established between the SDF and Turkey with help from France and the international community."
Also, leaders of the terrorist group told Reuters that France promised to send troops to Manbij to support the SDF after Thursday's meeting.
Following the statement, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned Macron's statements, said Turkey is very saddened by France's "completely wrong" approach to Syria, adding that the remarks suggesting intermediation between Turkey and the YPG-dominated SDF, if true, were remarks "far beyond one's limit."
Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist group due to its links with the PKK. The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU, has waged a campaign against the Turkish state for more than 30 years in which nearly 40,000 people have died. But the YPG is seen by the U.S. and other Western powers as a partner against Daesh in Syria, despite the organizational and ideological links between the two.
Turkey has vowed to take initiative to drive YPG and SDF out of Manbij if the U.S. does not keep its promise to withdrawing them and stop arming the force.