PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister on Wednesday demanded that all Iranian-backed militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, leave Syria and said that Turkey and Iran were violating international law through their actions in the country.
Speaking on BFM television, Jean-Yves Le Drian also said there were indications Syrian government forces were using toxic gas against civilians although the U.N. would need to confirm that.
Asked whether he wanted Turkish armed forces to withdraw from Syria, Le Drian replied that he wanted “the withdrawal of all of those who ought not to be in Syria, including Iranian militia, including Hezbollah.”
“Ensuring the security of its borders does not mean killing civilians and that should be condemned. In a dangerous situation in Syria, (Turkey) should not add war to war.”
France has backed the Syrian opposition during the seven-year war and is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants.
Le Drian said international law “is being violated by Turkey, by the Damascus regime, by Iran and those who are attacking eastern Ghouta and Idlib”. His remarks amount to France’s toughest line yet on Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Le Drian is due in Tehran on March 5 for talks over its ballistic missile program, the nuclear deal agreed with world powers in 2015 and the role of Iran in the region at a time when the United States has put pressure on its European allies to toughen their stance on Tehran.