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  French, German forces in Syria

French, German forces in Syria

REUTERS/AFP
Published : Jun 16, 2016, 9:26 am IST
Updated : Jun 16, 2016, 9:26 am IST

The Syrian government said on Wednesday that German special forces were present, alongside French and American military personnel, in northern Syria, an accusation denied by Germany.

The Syrian government said on Wednesday that German special forces were present, alongside French and American military personnel, in northern Syria, an accusation denied by Germany.

Syrian state media said the government strongly condemned the presence of French and German forces in Ain al-Arab, also known as Kobani, and Manbij.

 

“Syria... considers it explicit and unjustified aggression towards (Syria’s) sovereignty and independence,” state news agency Sana quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

The US-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) are staging an offensive against Islamic State near Manbij, while Kobani is under the control of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, part of the SDF.

Germany’s defence ministry said repeated claims by the Syrian government that German special forces were in northern Syria were not and had never been true.

“There are no German special forces in Syria. The accusation is false,” a ministry spokesman said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian civil war now in its sixth year, said French special forces were building a base for themselves near Kobani.

 

France’s defence minister said last week that there were special forces operating in Syria helping the SDF advance towards Manbij.

The observatory also said German, French and American military advisers, and French and American special forces, were assisting the SDF in its fight against Islamic State but had so far remained in a support role and not fought on front lines.

Meanwhile, at least 70 fighters have been killed in less than 24 hours of fierce clashes between pro-regime forces, jihadists and rebels in Syria’s Aleppo province, the monitor said.

Pro-regime fighters — backed by regime and Russian air strikes — retook the villages of Zaytan and Khalasa to the southwest of Aleppo city after losing control of them hours earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

 

But Al Nusra Front, Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate, launched a counterattack to retake Khalasa this morning, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

“Khalasa is on a high hill overlooking large parts of the south of Aleppo province,” he said.

The area overlooks the regime’s supply road around the south of Aleppo city, linking the government-held Nayrab airport to the city’s southeast and areas controlled by regime troops to its west, he said.

Rebel-and jihadist-held areas in the south of Aleppo province faced heavy strikes and shelling overnight, said the monitor.

Location: Lebanon, Beirut