In an interview with BFM television on Wednesday, 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… [I want] the withdrawal of all of those who ought not to be in Syria, including Iranian militia, including Hezbollah.”
Iran, who are backing dictator Bashar Assad, are refusing to leave Syria.
Although Le Drian did not call for the removal of Turkey’s troops, he did warn them against making the situation worse. Le Drian’s comments are France’s toughest line so far on Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
These comments come just ahead of planned talks between France and Iran. Le Drian will go to Tehran next month to discuss Iran’s ballistic missile programme, the 2015 nuclear deal, and Iran’s behaviour in the Middle East.
The relationship between France and Iran has gone downhill over the past year, as the US gets tough on Iran and encourages its allies to do the same, with both sides trading harsh words and Le Drian accusing Iran of “hegemonic” aspirations in the Middle East
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu travelled to Iran on Wednesday to hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about Le Drian’s comments and Turkey’s military operation in Syria, according to a representative from the Turkish government.
Iran had previously urged Turkey to halt its military offensive in Syria, as it breached Syrian sovereignty and would increase tension in the country. Although, it is worth noting that the Regime may just be doing this to preserve power in Syria for themselves.
Syrian Civil War
During the seven-year civil war in Syria, France has supported the Syrian opposition and is now part of the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants.
Le Drian also said that there was evidence that the Syrian government forces were using toxic chlorine gas against civilians in the rebel-held Idlib province and the besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta, and the UN would need to investigate.
He said: “I’m speaking with a degree of caution because you have to be careful pending full documentation, but all the indications that we have show that at the moment chlorine is being used by the Syrian regime.”
In May 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron said that he drew a red line on the use of chemical weapons and warned of an immediate reprisal from France.