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Russian forces re-deployed from Afrin after Turkey’s offensive

January 20, 19:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The operations group have been redeployed from the area of Afrin to the area of Tel Ajar in the Tel Rifaat de-confliction zone

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MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. An operations group of the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides and military police has been re-deployed from Syria’s Afrin to Tel Ajar after Turkey had launched its offensive, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry said that "the command of the Russian military group in Syria has taken steps to provide security of the Russian servicemen, who had been stationed in Afrin canton, where the Turkish Armed Forces have mounted a ‘special operation’ against Kurdish units."

"The operations group of the center for reconciliation of warring sides and military police have been redeployed from the area of Afrin to the area of Tel Ajar in the Tel Rifaat de-confliction zone in order to avoid possible provocations and to ensure Russian servicemen’s lives and health are not exposed to risks," the ministry said.

The Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria is monitoring the situation within and beyond the de-confliction zone in order to provide assistance to the civilian population fleeing the area of fighting.

On Saturday, Turkey’s General Staff declared the beginning of Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish units from Self-Defense Forces and Democratic Union Party in Afrin, home to 1.5 million Syrian Kurds. Ankara says that these two groups are affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) recognized as terrorist in Turkey. The national TRT broadcaster said the Operation Olive Branch was launched at 17.00 local time.

The General Staff said that the operation aims "to eliminate terrorists of PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh [the Islamic State terrorist group outlawed in Russia - TASS], and to save our friends and brothers… from their [the terrorists’] oppression and cruelty.".

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