Russia, Turkey to enhance cooperation in Syria under Astana format

Assad does, of course, oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan carved, in part, out of his country.

Earlier, the usa announced that it would work with militants of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to set up a new 30,000-strong "border security" force in Syria.

Turkey is pursuing an offensive against Kurdish fighters in northwest Syria.

"We recognize Turkey's concerns regarding the current situation in Syria, and we recognize the Kurds' aspirations", Lavrov said.

Reports emerged earlier on Monday that pro-Assad militiamen would enter Afrin to assist local Kurdish militias fighting against an incursion by the Turkish military and Syrian rebels affiliated with Ankara. U.S. troops are not present in Afrin, but the United States is allied with both the YPG and Turkey, and has very much positioned itself against the Syrian government, demanding regime change.

The Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said in a phone call with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, that Damascus would face consequences if it struck a deal with the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG) and said the Afrin operation would continue, CNN Turk reported.

Turkey's assault on Afrin, launched last month, aims to clear the region of YPG fighters that now control the territory.

Afrin has been held by the YPG terrorist group since 2012. A return to the area, where a potent mix of regional and global powers have boots on the ground, could further complicate the situation and lead to unwanted confrontations.

Erdoğan says Turkey to siege Afrin city center soon

But on Sunday, a senior Syrian Kurdish official said Kurdish forces and the Syrian government had reached a deal for the Syrian army to enter Afrin, and that it could be implemented within two days.

Turkey has warned that it will hit back at pro-Syrian government forces if they moved into Afrin, which is controlled by the YPG militia.

Moscow may have consented to the offensive, but it has previously closed the airspace to Turkish jets after a Russian plane was shot down in an area of north Syria where Turkish military observers were expected to enforce a de-escalation zone.

It was not clear who, exactly, would enter Afrin.

Turkish artillery fires toward Syrian Kurdish positions in Afrin area, Syria, from Turkish side of the border in Hatay, Turkey, Feb 9, 2018.

"The popular forces joining the resistance against Turkish occupation in Afrin comes in the framework of supporting residents as well as defending Syria and its sovereignty", the news agency said.

Ankara considers the YPG a "terrorist group" linked to the Kurdish insurgency within Turkey's borders.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, Syrian rebels and Turkish forces have taken 35 villages since the start of the operation, but most border Afrin.



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