An escalation of military action in Syria would be “unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, in comments addressing Turkey’s plans for a new offensive into the war-torn country.
Damascus and Moscow are seeking to negotiate with Ankara to “prevent any new military action,” Reuters cited Russia’s top diplomat as saying at a press conference in Moscow alongside his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May announced plans for a new offensive in northeast Syria targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Turkey has conducted four major military operations in northern Syria.
Ankara views the YPG as a “terrorist” organisation and as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for 40 years.
Lavrov’s remarks were aimed at persuading Erdoğan to row back talk of a new campaign in northern Syria, Reuters said.
Erdoğan earlier this month met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi. The pair pledged new ties – including the expansion of cooperation in the economic and energy sectors – with Turkey vowing to make some modest economic concessions.
The meeting has sparked concerns over burgeoning ties between Ankara and Moscow and Russia’s potential use of Turkey to circumvent Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.