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Russia mediates to stop Turkiye ground operation in northern Syria

Syrian National Army hit the positions of PKK on February 2, 2022 [Hisam Hac Omer/Anadolu Agency]
Syrian National Army hit the positions of PKK on February 2, 2022 [Hisam Hac Omer/Anadolu Agency]

Russia has been working to meet Turkiye's demands in northern Syria as an alternative to the Turkish military ground operation, Turkish officials said.

According to the officials, Ankara demanded that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) withdraw from the areas of Manbij, Ayn Al-Arab, and Tal Rifaat, and replace them with the Syrian regime institutions, including the security forces and border guards.

Ankara has given a time limit to meet its conditions, otherwise, the alternative would be a military operation that would include those areas, the Turkish officials said.

For his part, Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said Tuesday that the ground military operation in northern Syria may begin at any time, depending on the evaluation of the concerned references in Turkiye.

Kalin said Ankara demands that the Kurdish People's Protection Units withdraw to as far as 30 km away from the Turkish border, and to stop trying to infiltrate into the Turkish territories.

Kalin said the Turkish forces have not yet targeted any American or Russian soldiers, stressing that their only target is the Kurdish People's Protection Units in northern Syria.

"The Turkish military operations have blocked the establishment of a terrorist corridor from the Iraqi border to the Mediterranean," he added.

Meanwhile, Kurdish media outlets quoted an SDF spokesman as saying that the militants have rejected Turkiye's demands and conditions during their meetings with the Russian officials, because they do not suit the Kurdish people's requirements, the Russian RIA Novosti agency reported.

READ: Israel will use the Kurds as a tool, yet Turkiye still normalised relations

The agency quoted the spokesman as saying that the SDF have asked Russian representatives to help conclude an agreement with the Syrian regime to protect the lands they control in the north-east of the country.

The spokesman said the SDF forces have continuous and important meetings with the Russian side, stressing that the Kurdish side has only received efforts from the Russians to reduce escalation, maintain stability and prevent any Turkish attack.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has recently called to end the "game" to hide the PKK extensions under the banner of the war against Daesh.

Erdogan said, in a press conference held in Ankara, that his country does not seek permission from anyone when it takes steps related to the security of the homeland and the people.

Meanwhile, the US National Security Council Communications Coordinator, John Kirby, said Turkiye has the right to push terrorism away from itself. However, he indicated Washington's opposition to any move that might affect the continuation of the war against Daesh or cause casualties among civilians.

On the ground, the Turkish forces renewed the bombing of the SDF sites in north-eastern Syria, while the Turkish Ministry of Defence announced the "neutralisation" of 14 militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Kurdish People's Protection Units.

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