ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday turned down a French offer to mediate with the Syrian Democratic Forces dominated by a Kurdish militia deemed a terrorist outfit by Ankara, a presidential spokesman said.
"We reject any efforts to promote 'dialogue', 'contact' or 'mediation' between Turkey and those terrorist organisations," Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said he hoped "a dialogue" could be established between the two sides with help from Paris and the international community, after he met a delegation of Syrian and Arab fighters. The backbone of the SDF is the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which has been driven out of its Afrin stronghold by a Turkish offensive in northern Syria.
The YPG is the military wing of the main Syrian Kurdish political movement, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The Turkish military began its offensive against the YPG in January, targeting the group over its ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984 and which Ankara blacklists as a terror organisation.
"Turkey's position on PKK/PYD/YPG, which seeks to legitimise itself as SDF, is perfectly clear," Kalin said, warning Paris against taking any steps which could be construed as legitimising terror groups. "The countries we consider friends and allies must take a clear stand against all forms of terrorism," he said.
"The various names and disguises cannot hide the true identity of the terrorist organisation."
France, as well as Turkey's NATO ally the United States, sees the SDF as a key force in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.
During the meeting with the delegation, Macron acknowledged the "role of the SDF in the fight against Daesh", an Arabic acronym for IS, the Elysee said.