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Ankara Asks for Moscow’s 'Cover' to Infiltrate Afrin

Ankara Asks for Moscow’s 'Cover' to Infiltrate Afrin

Friday, 19 January, 2018 - 06:30
Turkish soldiers stand near armored vehicles near the Turkey-Syria border. Photo: Ilyas Akengin/AFP

Turkey asked on Thursday for Russia’s air cover to launch a military operation ahead of infiltrating the city of Afrin, northern Syria.

Ankara announced it was coordinating with Moscow to allow its air forces to use Syrian air space over Afrin, also demanding the Russians not to oppose such potential Turkish military operation.

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan were both dispatched to Moscow on Thursday to hold talks with Russian officials with an aim to receive a green light for a Turkish operation in Afrin, where the Russian Army is deployed.

The potential Turkish military intervention will be conducted against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers as a threat to its security.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country would not allow the establishment of a “terrorist army” on the Syrian-Turkish border, adding that such development will destroy Ankara’s relationship with Washington.

He said the comments of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense James Mattis concerning the absence of plans to form an army of Kurdish fighters east the Euphrates River, were not convincing.

Turk News reported on Thursday that Turkish forces units and factions from the Free Syrian Army had tactically coordinated to “clean” the Syrian city of Afrin from Kurdish YPG forces.

The channel said the military forces already set 7 main corridors in eastern Afrin, adding that Kurdish officials had warned from a Turkish military operation that would lead to “new wars” in Syria.

In Damascus, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad was quoted by the official SANA news agency as saying: "We warn that the Syrian Air Force is ready to destroy Turkish air targets in the skies of Syria."

The Turkish Army continued to enhance the presence of its forces at the Syrian border, as YPG forces fired from their controlled areas, northern Syria, against Turkish territories.

According to military sources, the Turkish forces similarly responded to the shootings in the framework of their right of self-defense.

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