Thousands of civilians flee as Syria Kurds defend against Turkish onslaught - AFP
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Tuesday it was bewildered by a Turkish pledge to conduct a new military operation in northern Syria if the area was not cleared of people Ankara calls terrorists, warning such a move would damage efforts to stabilize the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited on Monday as saying his country would launch a new military operation in northeast Syria if the area was not cleared of Kurdish YPG militia.
Cavusoglu was quoted by the state-owned Anadolu agency as saying that Russia and the United States had not done what was required under agreements that halted a Turkish offensive last month and called on them to do what was necessary.
Russia’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday it was bewildered by Cavusoglu’s statement since Moscow had carried out in full its obligations under a deal struck between President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan.
“Thanks to a range of measures implemented by the Russian Federation, it was possible to significantly stabilize the situation,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, said in a statement.
“The head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s call for military action can only escalate the situation in northern Syria rather than sort things out in the way set out in a joint memorandum signed by the presidents of Russia and Turkey,” Konashenkov added.