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On December 29, activists distributed footage showing a French Airbus H225M military helicopter flying over northeastern Syria.

The helicopter was spotted near the town of al-Shheell in the southeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. At that point, units of the Syrian Democratic Forces in the city were placed on high alert, possibly in preparation for a joint counterterrorism operation with the US-led coalition. France is an important member of the coalition.

Both the French Air Force and the Army have at least 18 H225M helicopters, which are apparently still in service in northeast Syria.

The H225M is a long-range tactical transport helicopter that can perform a variety of tasks, including search and rescue, aeromedical transport, logistical support and on-board maritime operations.

The French military had several posts in northeast Syria, mainly in northeast Aleppo and northern Raqqa. However, in October 2019, a Turkish-led invasion of the region forced French and American troops to leave these areas. The Russian military police and the Syrian Arab Army took control.

Earlier this year, a French H225M helicopter was seen transporting special forces or intelligence officials from Iraq to northeast Syria.


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