Syria’s territorial integrity must be preserved, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, as Turkish forces prepare to enter the country, Reuters informs.
U.S. actions in the region are contradictory and Russia is urging dialogue between Damascus and Syria’s Kurds, he told reporters during a visit to Kazakhstan following a surprise withdrawal by U.S. troops.
Turkish forces will cross into Syria “shortly”, President Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director said on Wednesday. On Tuesday Ankara noted it will go ahead with the military operation in northeastern Syria and won’t bow to threats over its plans, an apparent reply to President Donald Trump’s warning to limit the scope of its expected assault, AP adds.
Trump said earlier this week the United States would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have fought alongside Americans for years. But he then threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if they went too far.
The U.S. president later cast his decision to pull back U.S. troops from parts of northeast Syria as fulfilling a campaign promise to withdraw from “endless war” in the Middle East. Republican critics and others said he was sacrificing a U.S. ally, the Syrian Kurds, and undermining American credibility.
Trump’s statements have reverberated on all sides of the divide in Syria and the Mideast. In Ankara, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey was intent on combatting Kurdish fighters across its border in Syria and on creating a zone where Turkey could resettle Syrian refugees.