Moscow has expressed astonishment at Turkey’s idea to carry out a new military operation in northeastern Syria if the region was not cleared of Kurdish fighters Ankara views as terrorists, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Russia also warned Turkey against taking such a step, arguing that it would damage international efforts to stabilize the region.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, on Monday announced that his country would launch a new military operation in northeastern Syria if the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants are not completely removed from the area.
Ankara deems YPG a terrorist organization claiming that it is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group of armed militants who have been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for more than three decades.
The Minister was quoted by the state-owned Anadolu Agency (AA) as saying that both Russia and the United States did not fulfill their parts of the agreements that stopped a Turkish incursion into Syria last month, urging them to make good on their pledges.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed in late October to deploy Syrian and Russian forces in northeast Syria to remove the Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons from the border with Turkey.
The Turkish minister’s remarks and Russia’s frosty reaction to them, which came less than a month after the deal, reflect emerging tension between Moscow and Ankara over Syria, Reuters said.
The Russian government had carried out in full its obligations under the Putin-Erdogan deal, the country’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday, adding that Cavusoglu’s statement, therefore, puzzled them on several different levels.
“Thanks to a range of measures implemented by the Russian Federation, it was possible to significantly stabilize the situation,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a statement.
“The head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s call for military action can only escalate the situation in northern Syria rather than sort things out in the way set out in a joint memorandum signed by the presidents of Russia and Turkey,” Konashenkov warned.
The Russian spokesman listed areas where he thought his country had helped bring about real progress, including quickly separating conflicting sides and conducting joint patrols with the Turkish armed forces.
He further stated that Moscow was in the process of deploying more Russian military police to northeast Syria, setting up field hospitals for civilians, distributing humanitarian aid and rebuilding infrastructure.