Russian diplomat: Turkey’s plan for ground operation in Syria a premature step
Russia on Sunday reiterated its opposition to Turkey's ground operation in Northern Syria, after weeks of low-key diplomatic dialogue between the countries.
Moscow views Ankara’s plans to carry out a ground operation in Syria as a premature step, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Fourth European Department Yury Pilipson said in an interview with Russian TASS news agency.
"The two countries’ General Staffs and intelligence agencies maintain close contact on Turkey’s plans to carry out a military operation in Syria. We understand that issues related to the protection of Turkey’s southern border are sensitive for our partners but we proceed from the need to strictly comply with the principles of the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of the Syrian state," the diplomat noted.
"On the whole, we view such an operation as a premature step because it may lead to a further rise in tensions, boosting separatist sentiment and fueling armed confrontation," Pilipson added.
He pointed out that the relevant ministries of Russia and Turkey maintained close contact on Syria. "It is well known that the Astana platform, the only effective one in terms of resolving the Syrian crisis, was launched through the efforts of Russia, Turkey and Iran," Pilipson emphasized.
Dialogue between the sides have been ongoing since weeks as reports said Turnkey gave a time frame to Russian forces in Syria to clear the region from Kurdish militants which it deems terrorists.
Turkey says the People's Protective Units (YPG) which form the backbone of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) are linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish armed group designated as terrorist by Turkey, the US and the EU, and it poses a threat to its national security.
Last week Russian Presidential Envoy for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov said they had positive results in dissuading Turkey from a military incursion into Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier announced that Turkey planned to carry out an operation in Syria to create a 30-km security zone along the border.