The Russian Army Command in Syria is undertaking security measures for personnel present in Afrin, after the launch of the Turkish military operation against the Kurdish forces.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement Russia was withdrawing troops from Syria’s Afrin targeted by Turkish offensive.
“The command of the Russian group of troops in Syria has taken measures to ensure security of Russian servicemen located in the district of Afrin, where the Turkish Armed Forces launched a special operation against the Kurdish armed groups,” the statement read.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on Saturday that Moscow was closely following the situation in Syria’s Afrin and was concerned by the news about Turkish military engagement in the city.
“According to the incoming reports, on January 20, Turkey started using the units of its armed forces near Afrin in northwestern Syria. The Turkish General Staff has announced that the Turkish military shelled the positions of the Syrian Kurds in response to provocative shelling by militants of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party. Moscow has received this information with concern. We are closely monitoring the development of the situation,” the statement said.
Moscow has been calling on the warring parties to exercise restraint. The Ministry added that the position of Russian side was based on the need to safeguard Syria’s territorial integrity, respect of its sovereignty and the political settlement within the framework of the UN Security Council resolution, as well as the accords reached under the Astana process.
On January 20, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed the beginning of the operation in Afrin.
“The Afrin operation has de-facto been started on the ground,” Erdogan said in a televised speech, adding that “this will be followed by Manbij,” referring to another Kurdish-controlled Syrian town.