Russian FM hopes ‘ceasefire’ will be observed in Afrin

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg    


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said that he hopes a ceasefire will be observed in Afrin, in reaction to Turkish threats to attack Afrin in northern Syria.
 "As for the situation in Afrin and Syria overall ... We are seeking full compliance with the ceasefire agreements," Lavrov said.

Furthermore, the Russian FM said the new plans of the United States to train a 30,000 border force for stability in northern Syria will not help to improve relations between Turkey and Kurds.

"You know that this has already caused Turkey's negative reaction, I have said that for us, this causes serious questions, concerning the maintenance of Syria's territorial integrity,” Lavrov said.

“There is also the issue of relations between Turkey and the Kurds. This new unilateral ultimatum move does not contribute t a settlement of the situation around Afrin," Lavrov said during his annual press conference.

"We, just like our Turkish and Iranian colleagues, and, I believe, like many others, are awaiting detailed explanations from the United States," Lavrov stressed.

"There is a fear that the US is pursuing a policy to cut Syria into several pieces - but there is nothing in the UN resolutions on that... so we are seeking clarification," Lavrov says.

 After being asked about the Kurdish issue, and Russia's role in resolving the tensions between the Kurds in Iraq, Lavrov seemed apprehensive about taking a stand with Erbil. 

"We support Iraq's territorial integrity," Lavrov says. Russia is ready to act as a mediator if needed, he says.

Furthermore, the Russian FM said that Kurdish interests must be respected in the Russian sponsored peace talks in Sochi planned to be held in late January.

“Kurds are a part of the Syrian nation, their interests must be respected, and will be considered in Sochi Congress,” Lavrov said.

Sihanok Dibo, adviser to the leadership of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) on his Twitter account suggested that’s unlikely that Russia and the US will support a Turkish attack on Afrin.

“If Turkey got the green light from America or Russia, it would have invaded Afrin six years ago. Turkey is aware that its fate will not be different from the fate of ISIS in Kobani,” he said.

The co-head of the administration in the Afrin canton released a statement on Sunday, suggesting the Turkish-backed rebels started to target villages in the Afrin region after Turkey failed to persuade Russia to exclude the Kurds from Sochi.

“The Turkish state failed in persuading Russia and the world to not join the representatives of North Syria in Sochi, and for the past two days, the Turkish state has been targeting the villages within the Afrin canton from all sides. The attacks have originated from within Turkish lands and have entailed the use of heavy weapons,” the co-head of the Afrin canton said.

“We, in Afrin canton, call for all the regional forces that are activated in the area, all the international institutions, and Human Rights organizations to conduct their role, and prevent the Turkish state from targeting the civilians and the safe areas,” the canton said.

“We, in Afrin canton, are not responsible for the results as we would use our right in the lawful defense, and we call for our people all over the world to support our people in Afrin canton,” the local administration warned.