Russia Calls on Turkey to Refrain from Steps Likely to Hamper Syrian Settlement

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MOSCOW/ANKARA – The Kremlin calls for refraining from actions that may hamper Syrian settlement, Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, commenting on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that Ankara is gearing up for an operation in northeastern Syria.

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“In this case, it is important to refrain from any actions that may create obstacles on the path of the Syrian settlement,” he noted, according to TASS.

“We know that certain perspectives are opening up and we understand that it will be a long and thorny path. And now that the Syrian Constitutional Committee has been formed and when the date for its meetings has been appointed, it is vital to refrain from any steps that may harm Syrian settlement,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin expects that in its preparations for an operation in northeastern Syria Turkey will proceed from the postulate that the territorial and political integrity of the country must be preserved.

“The Kremlin knows Turkey is committed to the postulate of Syria’s territorial and political integrity, to the understanding that Syria’s territorial integrity is the point of departure — both in the course of efforts to achieve a settlement in Syria and in all other matters. We hope that our Turkish counterparts will first and foremost adhere to this postulate in all situations,” Peskov told the media.

At the same time, Moscow agrees that “Turkey may take action to ensure its security”.

“It means resistance to terrorist elements that may be hiding in Syria. But first and foremost we say that the territorial and political integrity of Syria must be observed,” Peskov added.

According to Peskov, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Erdogan of Turkey haven’t discussed Ankara’s plans to carry out a military operation in northeastern Syria.

“However, you know that Russian and Turkish militaries and intelligence agencies maintain close contact,” Peskov pointed out.

Erdogan said on Monday that the United States has begun troop pullout from northeastern Syria, where Ankara is going to create a security zone.

“After talks [with US President Donald Trump] yesterday evening the process of the US troop pullout has begun, just as Mr. President promised. Our authorities concerned are working [along these lines],” Erdogan told the media at Ankara airport before flying to Serbia, according to the NTV channel.

Erdogan recalled his latest promise to “suddenly arrive in Syria one night” for conducting a new operation, noting, “We are resolutely minded because the terrorist threat is intolerable to us.”

On Saturday, Erdogan stated on television that preparations were underway for an operation in northeastern Syria. He did not rule out that military operations, including airstrikes, against Kurdish forces which Ankara regards as terrorists, might begin within days. Erdogan had stated that Turkey was going to act independently to create a zone of security east of the Euphrates in Syria because the desired result had failed to be achieved at negotiations with the US side.

Also, on Sunday, Erdogan held a telephone conversation with Trump. The White House later announced that Washington would not support Turkey’s operation in northern Syria or participate in it in any way. US forces will stay away from the area in question.

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