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The Latest: France looks to Russia in Syria, as US withdraws

AKCAKALE, Turkey — The Latest on Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria (all times local):

11:05

France is calling on European and other members of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria to regroup as the U.S. abdicates its leadership role in the region.

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian said in an interview on French television channel BFM Wednesday that France is notably now looking to Russia, given their “common interests” in defeating IS in Syria.

He said the American military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is forcing European leaders to re-examine their alliance with the U.S. in the region.

Le Drian said France’s “own security is at stake” amid the Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

He said that “to accept this invasion” was giving IS “an open door” to return, as the chaos could allow thousands of Islamic State fighters detained in Kurdish-run prisons to escape.

Russia has moved to fill the void left by the U.S. in the conflict, deploying its forces toward Syria’s border with Turkey.

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10:25 a.m.

Turkey’s president says he won’t halt its military offensive in northeast Syria, despite growing pressure and sanctions from NATO allies.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments came as Washington, which has announced limited sanctions on Turkey, said U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence will travel to Ankara Wednesday to try and reach a cease-fire deal.

Speaking to a group of journalists, Erdogan said he told President Donald Trump: “We could never declare a ceasefire,” adding that Turkey wouldn’t negotiate with “terrorists.”

Erdogan said he was “not concerned” by sanctions imposed on Turkey.

Turkey launched its offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists after Trump announced he was withdrawing U.S. troops.

Russia has signalled its role as de facto power broker in the conflict, deploying forces near the border following America’s pullout.

The Associated Press