French FM cautions against “fragile” victory over IS in Syria

PARIS, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday warned that the imminent victory over terror group so-called Islamic State in Syria will be “territorial” and vigilance is needed to make sure IS does not take a different form and still present a security threat.

Speaking to the French Foreign Affairs Commission in parliament, Le Drian said the operations, led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), should soon be finished and the last stronghold of IS in Baghouz, northeast Syria, should fall.

“As soon as (Baghouz) is taken, Daesh’s (IS) territorial will have been completely eradicated — it’s the end of the so-called Califate and a complete territorial victory for the international coalition against Daesh,” he said.

The Coalition is composed of 79 nations, led by the United States, which has declared its intention to withdraw its forces from northeast Syria.

“I stress that this territorial victory, which we register, is fragile and reversible. It does not mean the end of the (IS) organisation, which will continue to threaten our territory and our interests as Daesh has not a different shape, more clandestine, and it keeps a real capacity for resilience and harm,” Le Drian added, citing recent attacks against Coalition forces in areas that were deemed “stabilised.” He cautioned about overestimating the victory over IS in the coming days and he warned that “clandestine action” by IS in Iraq and Syria was still possible.

“We will additionally have to show proof of vigilance relative to its (IS) capacity to move in other sensitive zones,” he indicated, referring more precisely to Afghanistan and Libya.

In post-IS Iraq, Le Drian saw positive trends as Baghdad was opening up contacts with many countries and this was “a motive for satisfaction” as the country recovers from the IS invasion.

But on northeast Syria, he said there were “deep questions” as the future of that area and he said there was an obligation to support and protect SDF forces which had battled IS in Syria and had been instrumental in the defeat of the terror group.

“It would thus be inadmissible, morally as politically, to drop (support) for the Syrian Democratic Forces,” the foreign minister stressed.

Source: Kuwait News Agency