Russian envoy touts progress in preventing Turkish ground offensive into Syria
Russia has continued efforts to talk Turkey out of launching a ground operation in Syria and dialogue has turned out to be a success, said Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa.
"Dialogue is ongoing. No ground operation has been launched yet, which means there has been a positive result already. We will press on," the senior Russian diplomat noted while speaking to reporters.
Asked whether Moscow has been dissuading Ankara from conducting a ground operation, Bogdanov said, "Naturally so."
On December 6, a Turkish official told Al Jazeera that a deadline and conditions were set by Ankara for Washington and Moscow to back down from the military operation it intends to carry out in northern Syria.
According to the Turkish source, Ankara has given a specific time limit for the US and Russian sides to oust the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from Manbij, Tal Rifaat and Kobane in northern Syria.
The Turkish source also said that the Russian side set conditions related to the war in Ukraine in exchange for field and political concessions in Syria. He said that Russia offered to remove the cover from the al-Shahba area in the countryside of Aleppo and Ain al-Arab to facilitate the entry of Turkish forces.
On Sunday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a phone call that "It is important to clear Turkey's Syrian border of terrorists up to a depth of at least 30 km," Turkish President Erdogan has told his counterpart.
Putin and Erdogan also discussed the situation in Syria in the context of the provisions of the Russian-Turkish memorandum of understanding signed in 2019. Erdogan earlier blamed Russia not to abide by the agreement and let Kurdish-led SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) militants reign in the region.
On November 20, Turkey launched Operation "Claw-Sword" against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG,) the main component of SDF in Northern Syria, after blaming the group for masterminding the bombing that took place on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on November 13 that killed 6 and wounded over 80 people.
The Turkish forces launched air and artillery strikes on the positions of the Kurdish units in the countryside of Aleppo, Hasakah and Raqqa, and vowed to expand their strikes to include a ground operation, which was opposed by the United States and Russia.