Russia: Syrian Kurds to be ‘crushed’ by Turkish military
Moscow – Russia threatened on Wednesday that any Kurdish militants remaining in a zone in north-east Syria to be controlled by Russian and Turkish military forces would be “crushed.”
The warning followed a deal struck the previous day between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that their countries would control formerly Kurdish-held territory targeted in a recent Turkish military offensive.
“The remaining Kurdish units will be crushed by the Turkish military machine,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS.
Russia and Turkey, which support opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, have forged a delicate alliance as Moscow, the main military backer of the Syrian state, looks to end the years-long conflict while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has the upper hand.
Turkey, which has opposed al-Assad, began the offensive earlier this month after US President Donald Trump ordered the abrupt withdrawal of US troops who had protected the Kurds in the area.
Turkey considers the Kurdish militants terrorists seeking to carve an independent state out of part of Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
The Russian-Turkish deal was set to take effect at noon (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.
The Kurds have been a major US ally in the fight against the extremist organization Islamic State. The US support for the Kurds has however caused tensions with Turkey, a US ally in NATO.
“The United States was the closest ally of the Kurds over the past few years. But in the end the US abandoned the Kurds, actually betraying them,” Peskov said. “The US opted to abandon the Kurds on the border, almost forcing them to fight against the Turks.”
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