Russia: Turkey's actions undermine Syria peace efforts
Wed Mar 16, 2016
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart in Moscow, on March 16, 2016. ©AFP
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday Turkey’s actions in the region reduce the effectiveness of the cessation of hostilities in Syria.
The Russian official made the remarks at a news conference with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Moscow.
Lavrov said Russia was aware of the Turkish army’s actions in the Iraqi territory as well as its shelling of Kurdish militants in Syria from the Turkish soil.
"The actions of Turkey in fact undermine these efforts - undertaken with the approval of the United Nations Security Council - both on the ceasefire, and on humanitarian aid deliveries, and on the start of a political process," the Russian foreign minister stated.
The new round of indirect peace talks on the crisis in Syria is underway between the Damascus government and the foreign-backed opposition in Geneva, Switzerland.
The negotiations are taking place as a ceasefire has stood since February 27. The truce does not apply to the Takfiri Daesh and al-Nusra Front terrorists.Turkish tanks fire from their position near the Oncupinar crossing gate near Kilis, south-central Turkey, toward the Syria border, February 17, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Turkey has been shelling the positions of fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its affiliate, the Democratic Union Party, also known as the PYD, in the northern parts of Syria over the past few weeks.
Ankara regards the YPG and PYD as allies of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.
The 'creeping expansion' on Syria border
Earlier this week, the Russian foreign minister accused the Turkish government of a "creeping expansion" on its border with Syria, saying Moscow has evidence that Turkish troops are on the Syrian territory.
"Turkey has started to declare it has a sovereign right to create some safety zones on Syrian territory," Lavrov stated.
Last December, Turkey deployed dozens of soldiers to the outskirts of Iraq's northern city of Mosul, claiming the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Daesh.
Baghdad condemned Ankara’s uncoordinated act as a violation of Iraq's national sovereignty.
Despite Iraq's call for the withdrawal of Turkish forces, latest reports said between 1,000 and 2,000 Turkish troops are still stationed in the Iraqi town of Bashiqa.