France looks to Russia in Syria as US withdraws

France is calling on European and other members of the coalition fighting the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Syria to regroup as the United States abdicates its leadership role in the region.

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian said in an interview on French television channel BFM on Wednesday that France is notably now looking to Russia, given their “common interests” in defeating the IS group in Syria.

He said the American military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is forcing European leaders to re-examine their alliance with the US in the region.

Le Drian said France's “own security is at stake” amid the Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

He said that “to accept this invasion” was giving the IS group “an open door” to return, as the chaos could allow thousands of IS fighters detained in Kurdish-run prisons to escape.

Russia has moved to fill the void left by the US in the conflict, deploying its forces toward Syria's border with Turkey.

Earlier in the day, the Turkish president made it clear that he won't halt the military offensive in northeast Syria, despite growing pressure and sanctions from NATO allies.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments came as Washington, which has announced limited sanctions on Turkey, said US Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Ankara on Wednesday to try and reach a cease-fire deal.

Russia has signaled its role as de facto power broker in the conflict, deploying forces near the border following America's pullout.

 

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