Top Russian commander in Syria meets with Kurdish forces
The chief of Russian forces in Syria has met with a Kurdish commander over threats by Turkey to launch a new incursion into northern Syria, a Kurdish spokesman told AP News on Monday.
Siamand Ali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, confirmed that Lt. Gen. Alexander Chaiko met Sunday with Kurdish commander Mazloum Abdi in northeast Syria, without giving any detail about what they discussed.
Chaiko’s trip to the northeast came days after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to order a land invasion of northern Syria targeting Kurdish groups following the Nov. 3, explosion in Istanbul that killed six people and wounded dozens.
The Lebanon-based pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen TV reported that Chaiko discussed with Abdi tensions along the northern border and what can be done to avoid a new major incursion by Turkey. The station said Chaiko suggested the deployment of Syrian government forces along the border with Turkey up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the border.
Another SDF spokesman, Aram Hanna, told the Al-Arabiya TV station that the Russians put forward during the talks the conditions of the Turkish side but these were all rejected by the SDF.
Meanwhile, SDF’s Washington representative Sinem Muhammed said Turkey used the 30 km issue as an excuse.
“Syrian regime forces have settled in Kobani and Manbij, but Turkey is also attacking areas where Syrian forces are located. The number of Syrian soldiers who lost their lives in the attacks are more than the SDF members. Turkey is also attacking the regime forces, it does not stop,” she said.
Turkey has launched a barrage of airstrikes on suspected militant targets in northern Syria and Iraq over the past week, in retaliation for the Istanbul bombing that Ankara blames on the Kurdish groups.
The groups have denied involvement in the bombing, and say Turkish strikes have killed civilians and threatened the fight against the Islamic State group.