Moscow welcomes Syrian Army entry to Manbij, will ‘synchronize expectations’ with Ankara
Top Russian and Turkish officials are to discuss on Saturday the latest developments in northern Syria, where Kurdish militias have invited government troops to take Manbij, a strategic city Ankara eyed for a military op.
Russian foreign and defense ministers are to welcome their Turkish counterparts in Moscow on Saturday for a ‘2+2’ meeting. The talks are aimed at “ensure absolute clarity and synchronize expectations” of the two nations about Syria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on the eve of the meeting. He suggested the results of the consolations may shed new light to the statements, which came this week from Turks and their opponents in Syria, the Kurdish militias.Also on rt.com Kurdish YPG calls on Syrian government to protect Manbij from Turkish attack
On Friday, the YPG militias called on the Syrian government forces to take control of Manbij, a strategically-located Syrian city located close to the border with Turkey. Ankara repeatedly complained about the presence of Kurdish fighters, who are considered terrorists in Turkey, around the city. Damascus responded by stating that its troops were already arriving in the city and have raised its flag there. The Syrian Army troops are ready to fight “any invader and occupier” the statement said. Russia, which supports Damascus against jihadist forces, said the development was “positive” since it made the situation in the country more stable.
The Kurds sought assistance from the government after the US, which backed them for several years, announced plans to withdraw troops from the Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria. The announcement came after Turkey, America’s partner in NATO, declared it was preparing an “anti-terrorist” operation in north-eastern Syria and complained that Washington failed to rein in YPG fighters. Turkey has amassed a large fighting force near its southern border, but stop short of launching the promised offensive.Also on rt.com Syrian Army ‘raises flag’ in country’s Kurdish province for 1st time since start of civil war
“Our Turkish colleagues and we will discuss the situation, which developed in Syria in the wake of the American withdrawal announcement,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists on Friday. “We will tell you later what we will have talked about”.
Kurdish fighters and government-loyal troops have been mostly avoiding confrontation during the seven-year-long war in Syria. Historically, the Kurds were a somewhat suppressed ethnic minority in the country, having problems with citizenship, land ownership and other issues. After the conflict broke out, Damascus tried to address those past grievances as part of its attempt to win loyalty from various groups in Syria.
Turkey’s grudge with the Kurds stems from decades of fighting a domestic Kurdish insurgency. Ankara considers Kurdish militias in Syria and Iraq as an extension of the PKK, the outlawed Turkish Kurdish organization, which has been fighting a guerrilla war against the central government for four decades.
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