Turkish diplomatic sources have noted that Moscow's statement affirms Turkey's rightful concerns about the U.S. providing weaponry support to the YPG in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday announced that the Daesh terror group had made an agreement with the PKK's Syrian affiliate the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG) to withdraw from Raqqa.
Lavrov's remarks came shortly after an announcement from U.S. officials earlier this week stating they have begun distributing arms to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), predominantly led by the PKK's offshoot the YPG, "to ensure a clear victory" over Daesh in Raqqa, disregarding Ankara's concerns.
Also speaking yesterday at a meeting with international news agency heads in St. Petersburg within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is "careful" in carrying out constructive work in response to Turkey's concerns regarding the PKK-affiliate YPG/PYD in Syria. Putin also affirmed that "We [Russia] coincide with Turkey on many matters regarding the Syrian issue. If we did not agree with Turkey on key matters with Turkey, then there would not be a cease-fire agreement nor a de-escalation zone agreement in Syria." He added to his remarks by expressing his concerns regarding threats to Syria's territorial integrity. Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister told members of the media in Moscow that Daesh reached a deal with the YPG to withdraw from Raqqa without armed conflict.
Lavrov said Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed the information, although the PYD/YPG terror group has rejected it. "Soon after this information was made public, Daesh militants exited Raqqa and moved towards Palmyra," Lavrov added. While affirming that Russia will remain committed to the fight against Daesh in Syria, Lavrov also said, "Russian air forces spotted this movement [Daesh moving from Raqqa to Palmyra] and attacked the [Daesh] convoy." Commenting on Lavrov's remarks, Turkish diplomatic sources speaking on the condition of anonymity said, "Terrorist brotherhood has been established in Syria. Turkey has emphasized repeatedly that a terror group cannot be eliminated with another terror group. The recently emerging terror incidents clearly show that the U.S. is marching in the wrong direction." Similarly, Syrian-Turkmen National Movement Party Vice Chairman Tarık Sülo Cevizci affirmed Lavrov's statements regarding the deal between Daesh and the YPG, telling the Turkish-language Sabah daily that "The city center of Raqqa used to be comprised of a nearly 100-percent Arab populace but is now predominantly Kurdish. There is a big dam on the Euphrates River and when they [the PYD/YPG] control the dam, they control agricultural areas in the region as well as the flow of electricity production."
Continuing on by affirming that Lavrov's statements are in line with intelligence information they received from the ground, Cevizci said, "In the previous incidents in Manbij and Tal Abyad, there was an agreement between the YPG and Daesh. The latter had either left the city without conflict or had left without showing great resistance. There was no clash in Tal Abyad and Daesh simply left the city. In Manbij, there was a passive conflict that lasted for 40 days. The U.S. and the coalition had conducted airstrikes on the city and the SDF and YPG had taken over the cities by force." He further added that Daesh is leaving eastern and western parts of Daesh and affirmed that the YPG is settling in the areas abandoned by Daesh. Emphasizing the strategic significance of Raqqa due to its Tabqa Dam and petroleum reservoir, Cevizci said, "Aleppo's water comes from that dam [in Raqqa]. If you control the Tabqa Dam, you then strategically seize Aleppo. When considering the petroleum reservoir in that region, the YPG gains important, strategic superiority."
Ankara, Moscow discussed S-400 missile systems
Meanwhile, Russian President Putin added that the purchase of S-400 missile systems by Turkey from Russia was also discussed during his last meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"We have not produced these systems outside of the country yet. We will discuss the conditions of production with the Indian prime minister today. The process requires a large preparation in terms of technology and the training of skilled personnel. However, nothing is impossible. We will return to the delivery of these systems again. The effectiveness of these systems is known by both Turkish and Russian military officials," Putin said.
The S-400 is a new generation Russian missile system and so far it has only been sold to China and India.
Last year, both China and India signed an inter-governmental agreement for the procurement of four regiments of Russian-made S-400's. Delivery of the new air defense systems is expected to begin in 2020.
There have been negotiations between Ankara and Moscow over the sale of the systems. If an agreement for the procurement is eventually reached, Turkey will become the first NATO member nation to purchase the system.
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