Turkey summons Russian chargé d’affairs over PYD attack on Turkey
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
AA photoTurkey summoned Russia’s chargé d’affaires to the Foreign Ministry on March 22 to express Ankara’s reaction after the killing of a Turkish soldier by alleged Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) elements on the Syrian border.
Ankara said it was also Russia’s responsibility to monitor violations of the cease-fire in Syria, warning that it would retaliate in kind in the event that such attacks continue.
Ankara also conveyed Turkey’s concerns over Russia’s military presence in Syrian Kurdish-controlled areas.
“It was announced that they should do whatever necessary to prevent similar incidents from happening and that if it is experienced [again], there will be retaliation in kind… It is an attack on Turkey from a region that is said to be under YPG-PYD control. However, the Russian chargé d’affaires was summoned because Russia is responsible for monitoring violations in this region. Through the visit of Russian chargé d’affaires, our views about the involvement of Russian military elements in Afrin were repeated,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu said in a press briefing on March 23.
The ministry also hinted that Russia had not informed Turkey before deploying Russian military elements in Afrin.
Moscow said the deployment was initiated as part of cease-fire monitoring activities in line with a Dec. 30, 2016, truce deal brokered by Turkey and Russia.
“Coordination between Turkey and Russia, which are the guarantor countries of the ceasefire, will be the most effective method before any arbitration on the ground for truce-related issues,” Müftüoğlu said.
Müftüoğlu also expressed Turkey’s unease after Russian generals were photographed wearing symbols of the PYD’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), on their uniform and at a photograph showing them participating in Nevruz celebrations in front of pictures of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey considers those Syrian Kurdish forces as extensions of the outlawed PKK.
The spokesperson said Turkey also expected Russia to take steps to close the PYD’s Moscow office.
The Turkish military fired into the northwestern Syrian border region of Afrin on March 22 after a soldier was killed by cross-border fire. The YPG said Russian forces headed to the area.
He also said the inclusion of YPG fighters in the U.S.-led operation to take Raqqa from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was unacceptable. Turkish forces were ready to take part in collaboration with the U.S.-led coalition, he said.
Elaborating on the increasing cooperation of Syrian Kurdish militia with both Russia and the U.S., the spokesperson said the “situation on the ground might be seen differently, but the facts will be accepted by all parties.”
During a recent visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Moscow, both sides pledged to increase bilateral trade, but Russian restrictions on Turkish goods have created impediments to attaining bilateral goals, the spokesperson stated.
“Turkey is retaining its view to lifting restrictions” on the export of goods between the two countries, he said, adding that steps needed to be taken to resolve any problems.