France has offered to mediate in the conflict in northern Syria, where Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish fighters since January this year. French President Emmanuel Macron, after meeting a delegation of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, assured the SDF of Paris’ support in stabilizing northern Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is an umbrella group of fighters dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) which now controls swathes of North-eastern Syria after defeating Islamic State militants. However, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) active in Syria, and its armed wing the YPG has been labeled "terrorist groups" by Turkish government, accusing it of links with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody armed rebellion in Turkey for decades.

France and the U.S. have given the Kurdish militia weapons and training to support its battle against IS. The U.S. also backs the YPG's assertion that it has no direct organisational links to the PKK.  The SDF is a key U.S. ally in the fight against IS and the Kurdish YPG forms a core part of it.

President Macron after meeting members of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), including the YPG, expressed hopes for dialogue between Turkey and the militia. His office said he had "paid tribute to the sacrifices and the determining role" of the SDF in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

However, Macron’s offer has been swiftly rejected by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Who are you to mediate between Turkey and a terror group?" Erdogan said at a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital city of Ankara. "Those who host at the highest level the members of a terrorist organisation, which has been freely carrying out its activities in their countries, should be aware that this is nothing but an expression of hostility against Turkey," he said.

Erdogan reportedly also warned France, “Don’t get into things that are out of your depth.”

Turkey’s warning to France stems from its own entanglement in the conflict since Syria descended into chaos five years ago as anti-Bashar Al-Assad protests swept through the country. Turkey since then is hosting close to two millions Syrian refugees on its soil.

Ankara’s action against the YPG militia was launched in the Syrian city of Afrin as it perceives the group’s control over North-Eastern Syria as a direct threat to security and stability in Turkey. But, as the latest incidence shows, the Syrian conflict is increasingly pitting Turkey against its regional allies in the NATO.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 31, 2018 11:14 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website