Russia shows more support for Syrian Kurds after Turkish airstrikes

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Kurdish female fighters of the YPJ joining the fight against ISIS north Raqqa. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

A Russian government spokesperson praised the Kurdish forces in their fight against ISIS. Meanwhile, the co-Chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, and PYD Europe representative Abdulselam Mustafa met with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov in Geneva on Thursday.

The two sides discussed the recent developments in northern Syria, including the Turkish air strikes against the People’s Protection Forces (YPG).

Russian officials have condemned the Turkish air strikes against the Kurds in Syria and Iraq that took place last week.

“On April 25, it was reported that Turkish jets carried out a series of strikes on the positions of Kurdish self-defence detachments near Mount Karachok in northeastern Syria and near Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharov said on Thursday.

“I would like to remind you that Kurdish detachments are the most effective fighting force in the war against ISIS terrorists in northeastern Syria. We were greatly disturbed by reports of Ankara’s operations,” she said.

“There is reason to believe that if it was not for the hasty US attack on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase, which was outside the bounds of international law, Turkey would not have carried out the recent strikes. It is necessary to put an end to arbitrariness on Syrian soil,” the Russian official said.

“The targets that the Turkish Air Force hit in Syria included media facilities: a local TV and radio broadcasting station. Reports say some of your colleagues from the media centre of Kurdish self-defence forces were killed, among others. I would like to see the reaction of the relevant organisations and the journalistic community,” Zakharov said.

Turkey’s airstrikes overnight to April 25 on areas of Iraq and Syria along the border trigger most serious concerns in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“As the Turkish side declares, the strikes targeted positions of armed units of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian Democratic Forces linked to Democratic Union Party,” the ministry said.

“Such moves trigger most serious concern in Moscow. We are talking about actions by Turkish military against Kurdish forces that really stand against terrorist groups, first of all Islamic State, on the ground,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

“In conditions when completion of a war against terrorism in Iraq and Syria is still a long way off, such actions definitely discourage consolidation of anti-terrorist efforts, escalating the already tense situation.”

“The fact that Turkish airstrikes were conducted on the territory of sovereign states in bypass of their legitimate governments cannot but cause concern. We consider these actions inadmissible, running counter to the founding principles of inter-state relations,” the ministry said.

“In this situation we urge all parties to restraint. It is necessary to demonstrate due political foresight and focus attention on a most important for today task – countering international terrorism represented by Islamic State, (Jabhat al) Nusra and other affiliated groups,” it added.

Timur Akhmetov, a Russian analyst on the Middle East, told ARA News: “Russia’s main concern in regard to the recent airstrikes is that Turkey is demonstrating willingness to act in Syria and Iraq outside the established framework of controlled competition.”

“The fact that airstrikes were carried out without close coordination with the US command may suggest that Turkey wanted to use an element of unpredictability as a bargaining tool,” Akhmetov said.

“Currently Russia’s best interest is to keep the conflict within the established rules. Every party to the conflict has an acknowledged right to uphold its national security. But any serious military action should not be sudden for other major parties, because a rise of unpredictability may trigger escalation among the warring parties and undermine negotiation process,” Akhmetov told ARA News.

“On the other hand, Russia may seek to score political points among the Syrian Kurds by criticizing Turkish airstrikes,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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