Ankara accuses France's Emmanuel Macron of 'sponsoring terrorism' in Syria

French President criticised Turkey's incursion in Syria against Nato ally

A Turkish soldier stands near his armoured vehicle on a highway near the northern Syrian town of Ain Issa in Idlib province, on November 26, 2019, as Turkey-backed forces deploy reinforcements around the key town. Ankara and its Syrian proxies launched on October 9 a cross-border attack against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, which allowed Turkey, along with a subsequent Russian-Turkish accord, to control a strip of land on the Syrian side of the border. Ain Issa lies on the southern edge of that strip of land, on the key M4 highway that runs east to west across the northern part of the war-torn country. / AFP / Bakr ALKASEM
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Turkey on Thursday accused French President Emmanuel Macron of sponsoring terrorism after he criticised Ankara's operation in Syria.

Turkey last month launched an offensive against Kurdish-led forces in Syria, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said was against the "terrorists" of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia and ISIS.

But the move prompted criticism of Ankara that it was weakening the fight against ISIS by attacking the YPG, which had been leading the fight against the extremist group.

Mr Macron, who has repeatedly criticised the Turkish offensive, said on Thursday that Ankara had presented its allies with a "fait accompli" that endangered the anti-ISIS coalition's effectiveness.

His comments sparked a sharp reaction from Ankara, which accused Paris of seeking to establish a Kurdish state in Syria.

"In any case, he is sponsoring the terrorist organisation, he receives them regularly at the Elysee," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu.

Ankara regards the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdish PKK, which has fought an insurgency inside Turkey for 35 years and is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its western allies.

"Let Macron not forget, Turkey is also a member of Nato, that it stands by its allies," Mr Cavusoglu said.

Earlier Thursday, after talks with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg in Paris, Mr Macron criticised Turkey over its decision to attack the YPG.

"I respect the security interests of our Turkish ally, which has suffered numerous attacks on its soil," he said.

"But you cannot on the one hand say we are allies and demand solidarity in that regard, and on the other hand present your allies with the fait accompli of a military operation that endangers the actions of the anti-ISIS coalition, of which Nato is a member."