Turkey not at odds with Russia over Afrin operation: Cavusoglu
Turkey says it has no disagreements with Russia over its military operation underway against US-backed Kurdish militants in the northern Syrian region of Afrin.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was speaking to TGRT Haber on Tuesday in response to a question whether there were tensions between Ankara and Moscow over ‘Operation Olive Branch,’ the codename for Turkey’s aerial and ground attacks in Afrin.
He said, “We do not have any disagreements with Russia. We continue our contacts with Russia,” which has been conducting an aerial campaign against terror groups in Syria at the request of Damascus.
“We need to inform each other in a timely manner, especially [regarding] air strikes and the developments in the field. We contact them in real time or in advance,” the premier added.
Ankara launched the Afrin operation some two weeks ago after the US said it would work with Kurdish militants to set up a 30,000-strong border force near Turkey.
Shortly after the operation was launched, Moscow voiced concern about the Turkish attacks, calling on the sides to exercise restraint. The Russian Foreign Ministry also said the country’s troops had been withdrawn from the operation zone to “prevent potential” provocation.
Turkey views those militants as terrorists linked to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for independence for decades.
The ‘Operation Olive Branch’ is currently focused on the Afrin region, but Turkey has said it could extend to the nearby Kurdish-controlled city of Manbij and beyond.