Russia sends reinforcements to northeast Syria following deadly Turkish-Kurdish clashes

Russia sends reinforcements to northeast Syria following deadly Turkish-Kurdish clashes
It follows clashes between Turkish-backed Syrian fighters and Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
2 min read
29 December, 2020
Russian troops operate across large parts of Syria [Getty-file photo]

Russia has sent military police and armoured vehicles to a region of northeast Syria leading to a lull in fighting between Syrian fighters and Kurdish militias, according to media reports.

Weeks of clashes between Ankara-backed rebel groups and the Syrian-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), around Ain Issa, culminated on Sunday with the deaths of 15 Kurdish militants, according to the Turkish defence ministry.

Moscow, which backs the Syrian regime, has been attempting to broker a ceasefire in northeast Syria, and said late Sunday that it had deployed military police units to the area in a bid to defuse tensions.

"Earlier, during negotiations with the Turkish side, agreements were reached on the deployment of joint Russian-Syrian observation posts. Additional units of the Russian military police have arrived in the Ain Issa area today (Sunday) to step up efforts to stabilise the situation," the Russian defence ministry said Sunday, according to Reuters.

Video footage shared by one monitor, Ruslan Trad, on social media showed Russian armoured vehicles protected by armed helicopters deployed to an observation post near Ain Issa.

There has reportedly been a halt, over the past 24 hours, to shelling that has hit the region on an almost daily basis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday to discuss the clashes. 

Turkey will use the meeting to demand the expulsion of the YPG, a source from the defence ministry told Reuters.

The Turkish-backed Syrian National Army has accused the YPG of using the area to launch bomb attacks in towns and cities under its control.

Turkey and Syrian fighters have launched a number of offensives in northern Syria in recent years, capturing territories from Kurdish militias and the Islamic State group and establishing a buffer zone along its border.

Russia has reportedly pushed for Turkey to accept its proposal for a Syrian regime takeover of the flashpoint area.

Russian and Turkish officials will also evaluate key foreign policy issues in Tuesday's meeting in Sochi.

Although on opposite sides in the Syria war, Russia and Turkey have engaged in dialogue and planning through the Astana process, along with Iran.

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