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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia concerned about Turkey's incursion into Syria

Iran Press TV

Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:58PM

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed concerns over Turkey's incursion into Syrian territory, which has also prompted condemnation by the Damascus government.

In a Wednesday phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, Lavrov expressed concerns about the actions of the Turkish armed forces and Ankara-led militants in northern Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The conflict in Syria, humanitarian aid and efforts towards a political solution to the crisis in the Arab country were among the topics discussed during the phone call, which was made at the initiative of the Turkish side.

Cavusoglu claimed that progress was being made against the Daesh Takfiri group, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources said.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that Moscow was monitoring Turkey's offensive in Syria very closely, stressing that no military action must be carried out in a sovereign state without the consent of that country's legitimate government.

"We call on our Turkish partners to be selective when choosing targets for anti-terrorist operations and avoid shelling locations where opposition and ethnic forces could be [located], including Syrian Kurds, who are also fighting against Daesh," she added.

On August 24, Turkish special forces, tanks and jets backed by planes from the US-led coalition launched their first coordinated offensive in Syria. Damascus denounced the intervention as a breach of its sovereignty.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation, dubbed "Euphrates Shield," was aimed at "terror groups" such as Daesh and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a US-backed Kurdish group based in Syria.

Hours after the beginning of the offensive, Turkish-backed militants seized Jarablus, with Erdogan saying that they had taken over "government and official residences" and forced Daesh out of the Syrian town.

On Wednesday, Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said his country would keep attacking the Syrian Kurdish forces unless they fully withdrew to the east of the Euphrates River.

Kalin also claimed that the goal of Ankara's operation was to drive Daesh from a 90-kilometer (56-mile) stretch of land along the Turkish border.

"Starting from Jarablus, the cleansing of this region is our priority," he said, adding, "We have already cleansed 400 square kilometers successfully."

On Tuesday, Colonel John Thomas, the US Central Command spokesman, said that Turkish forces and Kurdish fighters had reached a "loose agreement" to stop fighting each other in northern Syria, but Ankara rejected any such ceasefire deal.

Syria has been the scene of a foreign-backed crisis since March 2011.

Turkey is said to be among the main supporters of the militant groups active in Syria, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri elements there and facilitates their safe passage into the violence-wracked state.

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