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Russian-Turkish Military Tension in Northeast Syria

Russian-Turkish Military Tension in Northeast Syria

Friday, 29 November, 2019 - 06:45
Russian patrols in Syria. AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad

Tension rose Thursday between the Russian army and Turkish-backed Syrian opposition factions near the town of Ain Issa, considered a self-governed Kurdish administration in the northeast of Syria.

Moscow announced that Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Army General Valery Gerasimov held talks with his Turkish counterpart, General Yasar Guler, on the developments in Syria.

"During the talks, they exchanged viewpoints on the situation in Syria," the Russian news agency Tass said on Thursday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow and Ankara maintain constant contacts that help them iron out differences arising during the Syrian operation.

"Our militaries and diplomats are in contact almost around the clock, which helps us resolve issues," she told reporters.

On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, signed a memorandum on joint actions in northeastern Syria.

Turkey and Russia began joint patrolling in the area on November 1.

Separately, Russia failed to block funding for a new team that will identify culprits behind toxic attacks in Syria after member states from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons approved next year's budget for the watchdog.

On Thursday, 106 OPCW member states voted in favor of the new budget, while only 19 countries including Russia and China voted against.

"In light of this result the budget for 2020 is adopted," the Conference of States Parties chairman said.

Moscow and its allies were trying to block the budget of the OPCW if it included funding for the new Identification and Investigations Team (IIT).

The IIT team is currently looking to determine the party responsible for an attack in the Syrian town of Douma in April 2018, after a probe found that chlorine was used.

The United States accused Russia of a "cover-up" of the use of chemical weapons by Syria.

“The Syrian cover-up is never going to work because the international community has the courage of its convictions. Unfortunately Russia has played a central role in this cover-up,” US ambassador to the OPCW Kenneth Ward said.

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