France, Australia ready to back US plan for Syria peacekeeping force

France, Australia ready to back US plan for Syria peacekeeping force
Trump's is not reportedly pushing a plan for Syria would see US troops training a multinational force to prevent a new IS insurgency.
2 min read
27 February, 2019
Jean-Yves Le Drian has warmed to the US plan for Syria [Getty]
France and Australia said on Tuesday they would support Washington's plans for a US-led peacekeeping force in Syria, to allow some American troops to withdraw from the country.

France and Australia's foreign ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Marise Payne spoke on the issue at a news conference in Paris on how to continue to provide support for the Syrian Democratic Forces following the Islamic State group's defeat on the battlefield.

"We believe that it's absolutely desirable that we stay at the side of the Syrian Democratic Forces, those who worked hard in the fight against the Islamic State group, making considerable sacrifices. Therefore, the American decision (to keep military forces in Syria) is a good thing," Le Drian said.

"We expect now to enhance more with the American authorities the conditions of this implementation, the operational concept that goes with it, and when we will have all that kind of information we will be able to take a decision."

US President Donald Trump has been eager to pull American troops out of Syria after an announcement in December that the withdrawal would be happening "soon".

Following intense criticism from security experts and allies, he backtracked, saying about 200 soldiers would remain in Syria indefinitely to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group. This figure was later raised to 400.

The Trump plan would see a small number of US troops remaining in Syria with the task of creating a larger multinational observer force to monitor a so-called safe zone along Syria's border with Turkey.

The buffer zone is meant to prevent clashes between Turkey and US-backed Kurdish forces in the SDF.

It would also prevent Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and Iran-backed fighters from seizing more territory in SDF areas.

On Tuesday, Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the US plan to keep a token force in Syria "lacks strategy".

"In essence, this indicated the fact that the US lacks a strategy on Syria. We tried to help them on this matter. They also agree on the coordination issue with us but we need a common understanding on safe zone and other topics," he said.

IS are holed up in a village in eastern Syria, with the SDF ready to launch a final offensive against the militants.

Agencies contributed to this story.