Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again threatened a military campaign against Kurdish “terrorists”.
Russia urged Turkey not to launch an offensive in northern Syria after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again threatened a military campaign against Kurdish “terrorists”.
“We hope that Ankara will refrain from any action that could lead to a dangerous deterioration of the already difficult situation in Syria,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Thursday.
“Without the consent of the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic, such a move would be a direct violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and would “cause a further escalation of tensions in Syria,” she added.
Erdogan again proposed a military offensive in northern Syria on Wednesday.
“We are taking another step towards establishing a 30 km (19 mile) wide security zone along our southern border. We will clean up Tal Rifat and Manbij,” he said, referring to two northern Syrian cities.
You will then “step by step advance into other regions,” said Erdogan.
For a week now, the Turkish head of state has been threatening to use Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters. He also targets the People’s Defense Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish faction that it aligns with the PKK.
The PKK has been waging an armed uprising against Turkey since 1984, and tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.
The Turkish government accuses the YPG of attacking Turkish security forces in Syria.
Zakharova said: “We understand Turkey‘s concerns about national security threats emanating from the border regions with Syria,” but added that the issue could only be resolved if Syrian troops were stationed in the region.
Under a 2019 deal, Russia, an ally of the Damascus regime, and Turkey agreed to ensure the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from areas in Syria near the Turkish border and to launch joint patrols.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday also warned NATO ally Turkey against a military offensive in Syria, saying it would endanger the region.
“We would defend ourselves against that,” said Blinken at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“We are concerned that any new offensive would undermine regional stability [and] provide malicious actors with an opportunity to exploit instability,” said Blinken.
Turkey has launched three military operations in northern Syria since 2016 and seized areas along the border to protect its border from ISIL (ISIS) and YPG threats.
The YPG-affiliated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned that an Ankara military operation would undermine efforts to combat fighters from the ISIL armed group in northeastern Syria.