RTL, a French private radio in France, has reported that France’s Foreign Minister has opened the door to possible cooperation with Syrian forces to combat ISIL, often referred to in France as Daesh.
Hours before the national ceremony to honour the victims of the November 13 Paris attacks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, spoke about France’s strategy to fight ISIL.
“We must wipe out Daesh and build a new political system in Syria,” summarised Fabius.
His words came after a whirlwind week of intense diplomatic negotiations on the resolution of the Syrian crisis, where he meet with Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel in an attempt to head an international anti-ISIL coalition.
Speaking on Syria, the Minister said, “We must gather the opposition, there must be a unity government, a new constitution and then an election in 18 months.”
The future of the president of Syria, Bashar Hafez al-Assad, remains the main point of friction with Russia.
“Assad cannot be the future of its people,” stressed Fabius, who confirmed that Russia and France are going to increase their cooperation in the war-torn country. Putin has maintained that the bombing of the rebel forces will be stopped to allow his military to concentrate on the fight against ISIL.
Combined ground troops needed
The French Minister stated that the fall of Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic state in Syria, was one of France’s first military objectives. But he conceded that bombing cannot be the only strategy to “eradicate” ISIL and that, rather than France on the ground, he wants a “committed coalition” with the unification of forces from the Free Syrian Army and military help from other Sunni Arab countries, adding … “why not forces from the regime?”.
When asked about the possibility of sending French ‘special forces’, the minister declined to speak further and indicated that their presence may not be made public.
Faced with intensifying airstrikes against ISIL’s strategic objectives, he also stressed the need to destroy oil traffic, its main income source. He cited the United States’ bombing of oil truck convoys. He also acknowledged that there are “very strong suspicions” that Turkey is purchasing oil from ISIL.
Photo: Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is welcomed by Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov (right), during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, November 26, 2015. – Reuters