France has expanded its military presence in Syria, joining the United States in its support for Kurdish militants that are accused of being used by the U.S. to partition the Arab country.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Sunday that French special forces had established six artillery batteries in eastern Syria along the border with Iraq, which are controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The news agency quoted local sources as saying that the new artillery batteries, located north of Baguz village in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, had fired their first shots.
The U.S.-led coalition confirmed on Twitter that "artillery from France" was supporting the SDF forces in an alleged attack on ISIS terrorists to the east of the Euphrates River in eastern Syria.
The U.S. and its allies have been bombarding what they call ISIS positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a U.N. mandate. The strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.
The Kurdish-dominated SDF is composed largely of militants from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), an anti-Damascus outfit regarded by Turkey as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The SDF militants, mainly active in the eastern part of the Euphrates River, are purportedly fighting against the remnants of the ISIS Takfiri terrorist group, which has already been driven out of all its urban bastions both in Iraq and Syria.
Damascus regards them as unwelcome armed forces occupying parts of the Syrian territory without the consent of the central government.
A pro-opposition monitoring group said the SDF, backed by artillery support from allied American and French forces, was advancing on Sunday against Daesh in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq.
Earlier this month, SDF militants and U.S. troops launched an operation in a small sliver of desert territory near the Iraqi border, where ISIS controls the main villages of Hajjin, Sousa and al-Shaafa in Dayr al-Zawr.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the SDF was closing in on Hajjin on Sunday, a day after seizing a nearby hilltop.
"There are intense clashes around Hajjin, and the SDF is advancing thanks to American and French artillery fire," the head of the UK-based observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.
According to the Anadolu agency, France has recently increased its military presence in some areas in Syria, including Manbij, Hasakah, Ayn Isa and Raqqah, which are controlled by the People's Protection Units (YPG).
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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