French special forces have been serving in an advisory capacity to Syrian rebels fighting the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State group, a defense ministry official confirmed to Agence-France Presse Thursday. French forces in northern Syria provided weapons and advice to Syrian rebels as the French air force assisted in airstrikes with a U.S. coalition.
“The offensive at Manbij is clearly being backed by a certain number of states including France. It’s the usual support — it’s advisory," the unnamed official told AFP, referencing the offensive on the ISIS stronghold of Manbij.
Joined by 300 U.S. special forces, the French troops have been advising the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led rebel coalition. The Syrian Democratic Forces have been fighting the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, on the ground in Syria as ISIS has looked to maintain control over swathes of the northern region of the country. A recent offensive in Manbij aims to cut off the route that ISIS has been using to receive fighters and supplies, as well as to send militants to conduct attacks on Europe.
France has been a member of the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes since 2014, and the European nation stepped up its efforts following a November terror attack in Paris claimed by ISIS. Terrorists affiliated with the group descended on the city’s bars, restaurants, a concert hall and outside a stadium, opening fire on civilians and using suicide vests to kill 131 people and wound hundreds more. The assault was the worst attack on French soil since World War II.
“France is at war,” French President François Hollande told Parliament several days after November’s attacks. “We’re not engaged in a war of civilizations because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”