MOSCOW – Russian, Turkish and Iranian joint military actions are not planned in Syrian territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“We are not planning joint military operations of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Syria,” Lavrov said in an interview with Vietnamese TV and Chinese TV channels CCTV and Phoenix on the eve of his visit to China and Vietnam. The question was answered as rumors had spread quickly around the internet and among experts that such a joint action was in the works.
At the same time, the diplomat stressed that Russia, Turkey and Iran are the guarantors of a truce in Syria. The minister explained that the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran operate in the territory of Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government of the Arab Republic.
“Turkey has raised concern about the threat to its security, but the Syrian government is protesting against the presence of the Turkish military in the country, but it has supported the creation of the Astana format. We want to achieve what no one else has achieved – to secure a real ceasefire in most of Syria and to initiate a direct dialogue between the government and the armed opposition,” he added.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not rule out the possibility of joint military actions with Turkey, Russia and Iran against radical groups in the Syrian province of Idlib. Syria has been facing civil war since 2011. Government forces are battling numerous opposition groups, armed militants and terrorist organizations.
This comes as about 200 US troops will remain in Syria after Washington troops leave, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.
Earlier, the White House said President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked by telephone about a possible creation of a safe zone in northern Syria.
In addition, top US Defense Department officials will welcome their Turkish counterparts this week for talks on the conflict in Syria, according to the White House.
Trump announced in December that the United States would leave Syria. However, no exact timeline for the return of the 2,000 troops was announced.US troops have been operating in Syria as part of an international coalition for about five years without the permission of the Syrian authorities or the UN Security Council. The United States has in particular supported the Kurdish militia that controls the eastern Euphrates territories and opposes the Syrian government.