The Russian military operational group and military police have been relocated from Syria’s Afrin where Turkey has started its military operation against the Kurds, Interfax news agency cited the Russian defence ministry as saying on Saturday.
Earler today, Reuters reported that Russian Chief of the General Staff of the armed forces Valery Gerasimov and his US counterpart Joseph Dunford have discussed the situation in Syria by phone, RIA news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Russian Defence Ministry.
Details of the call have not been disclosed.
The talks took place after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier on Saturday a military operation in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled Afrin region had begun after cross-border shelling by the Turkish army.
Since then, Turkey has now started air raids on Afrin; supporting the Turkish military, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has started ground skirmishes against YPG, the US-backed militia; YPG accuses Turkey of using the shelling as an excuse to launch a ground assault.
Two hours ago, at 14.00 GMT today, the Turkish military launched “Operation Olive Branch”, with the stated aim to “…establish security and stability on our borders and region, to eliminate terrorists of PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh, and to save our [Syrian] friends and brothers… from their [ the terrorists’] oppression and cruelty.”
Update 15.52: Reuters reports a Russian lawmaker said Moscow will help Syria diplomatically, demanding at the UN that Turkey halts military operation on Syria’s Afrin.
Franz Klintsevich, a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament’s security committee told RIA news on Saturday: “It is not only Syria that will demand this operation to stop. Russia will support this demand as well and will provide Syria with diplomatic assistance.”