EghtesadOnline: Moscow, Tehran and Ankara have no plans to carry out joint military operations in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Vietnam’s national broadcaster Vietnam Television, China’s CCTV and Phoenix TV.
“We don’t plan to carry out any military operations in Syria that would involve Russia, Turkey and Iran,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on Sunday.
“Russia and Iran are active in Syria at the invitation of the country’s legitimate government. Turkey has been citing its security concerns, but the Syrian government opposes the Turkish military presence."
Nevertheless, Damascus supported the Astana process involving Turkey, which made it possible “to ensure a true ceasefire in most of Syria and launch direct dialogue between the government and the armed opposition”, Financial Tribune quoted the top Russian diplomat as saying.
According to Lavrov, no one engaged the opposition in dialogue before. “They [western countries] relied on opposition members who left Syria long ago and live abroad, either in the Persian Gulf states or in Europe,” he said.
“However, it was the Astana process that turned the tide, bringing those at war to the negotiating table.”
Lavrov said this is the most important thing because at the end of the day it is these people—the Syrian military and armed opposition members—that developments on the ground depend on,” he emphasized.
Differences on Kurdish Units
Moscow and Ankara have not yet come to an understanding as to which Kurdish units active in Syria should be designated as terrorist, Lavrov said.
“A ceasefire is holding in most of Syria,” he said. “Some issues remain in Idlib, where there is a need to separate armed opposition units from terrorists, as well as in the country’s northeast, where the US has created a lot of problems, as it relied on the Kurds and encouraged them to move to areas populated by Arabs, which angered the Arab population and caused concern to Turkey.”
The Russian foreign minister noted that perhaps Washington did plan to create these problems and take control of the process afterwards, "just like it loves to do”.
Lavrov pointed out that the situation on the Syrian-Turkish border and Ankara’s concerns about extremists and terrorists active in those areas had been discussed at the Feb. 14 summit in Astana.
“We don’t see eye to eye on which of the Kurdish units should be designated as terrorist. Turkey has a special position,” he said.
“We understand its concerns but there is a need to separate the wheat from the chaff and figure out which Kurdish units are extremist and pose a threat to Turkey,” Lavrov stressed.