Russian presidential envoy for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov has said Russia is trying to convince Turkey to abandon the idea of conducting a ground operation against Kurdish militant groups in northern Syria, the state-run Russian news agency Tass reported.
“[This] dialogue is ongoing. No ground operation has been launched yet, which means there has been a positive result already. We will press on,” Bogdanov said on Monday.
Asked whether Moscow has been trying to dissuade Ankara from conducting a ground operation, Bogdanov said, “Of course [we have],”
Turkey has increased artillery and airstrikes on northern Syria in recent weeks and has said it is preparing for a possible ground operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters that it says are terrorists but who make up the bulk of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who helped a coalition of Western powers fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The air raids followed a bombing in İstanbul that killed six people and wounded 81. Ankara blamed the attack on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.
Although Ankara claims Kurdish forces in Syria were behind the İstanbul bombing, no group has claimed responsibility, and the SDF and the PKK denied involvement.
Not only Russia but also the United States is against a Turkish ground offensive in northern Syria.