Russian FM: US is responsible for Afrin, Syria situation
US short-sightedness on Syria led to problems and conflict there, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
The situation in Afrin, northwestern Syria, the site of a Turkish-led counter-terrorism operation, arose from the U.S. ignoring Turkey’s stance on the groups taking control across its border, according to Russia’s foreign minister.
"We all know how Turkey feels about the Kurdish groups” along the border, Sergey Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow. “To act in complete disregard of this position is short sighted. We see the results of such a lack of foresight in Afrin."
The U.S. began to establish border security forces and to allocate large sums of money to the SDF -- a group dominated by the terrorist PYD/PKK, say Turkish officials -- when all players and Turkey in particular had many questions about these plans, he added.
While Turkey has documented that the PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK -- a terrorist group which has taken thousands of lives in Turkey -- the U.S. has called it a “reliable partner” in the fight against Daesh, supporting it with weapons and planning a border security force with the SDF, against Turkey’s strong protests.
Dangerous unilateral steps by the U.S. are serving to create a quasi-state in large parts of Syrian territory, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, up to the Iraqi border, Lavrov warned.
Saying this is “undermining Syria’s territorial integrity,” Lavrov explained: “Independent authorities are being created there and funds for armaments are being sent there. We asked questions, got no answers to them, except the general slogan – don't worry, we favor Syria’s territorial integrity."
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove the PYD/PKK -- a Syrian-affiliated group of PKK -- and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the Afrin operation is aimed at establishing security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as protecting Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
It said the operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law.
The military also said "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.