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Russian Foreign Ministry comments on Turkey's accusations of ethnic cleansing in Syria

December 10, 2015, 12:39 UTC+3

According to the ministry's spokeswoman, Ankara's allegations "bespeak Turkey’s total detachment from life, from the region’s reality"

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Russian Foreign Ministry

Russian Foreign Ministry

© Natalia Garnelis/TASS

MOSCOW, December 10. /TASS/. Ankara’s statements about "ethnic cleansing" allegedly made by Russia in Syria, testify to the fact that Turkey is detached from reality, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"I cannot but comment on the Turkish leadership’s statement, alleging that Russia conducts 'ethnic cleansing' in Syria," she said. "It’s kind of odd to comment on these statements, as they bespeak Turkey’s total detachment from life, from the region’s reality."

 "All this has happened not for the first time. Such statements have been made on a regular basis in recent weeks."

According to Zakharova, they are mainly "variations" of the motives sounded in the speeches of the Turkish leader. "All this is later picked up by the administrative personnel at various levels and rephrased," the diplomat added.

"These unseemly statements, groundless accusations that we hear from Ankara, speak for themselves. They more and more sound like a display of impotent rage", she said.

Iraq-Turkey tensions

The spokeswoman also dwelled upon the UN Security Council’s meeting on December 8 that discussed Turkey’s actions in Iraq. Zakharova noted that the meeting was set to caution Ankara against new reckless actions and provocations.

The closed-door meeting, initiated by Russia, focused on the deployment of Turkey’s military units to Iraq’s territory, the diplomat said.

"The mere fact that this meeting was held, as we consider, should somehow throw cold water on Ankara’s hot heads. Possibly, we hope, this will caution them against new reckless steps and provocations as we all know they are capable of this," she said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has taken this incident very seriously, Zakharova said. "Judging from the reaction of some Security Council members, the actions of Turkish military came as a surprise even for their closest allies."

Zakharova noted that due to solidarity, they failed to criticize Ankara’s actions what is a "rude violation of the international law."

On December 4, Turkey sent around 130 soldiers, tanks and artillery weapons to northern Iraq where Ankara is training Kurdish peshmerga fighters for attacks on Mosul, seized by the Islamic State group’s gunmen.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry later summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Baghdad and demanded that Turkey should immediately withdraw its forces from the northern Iraqi territories. The ministry said Ankara had deployed forces without Baghdad’s permission and warned that it considered the step as a "hostile act."

Earlier this week, the ruling National Iraqi Alliance allowed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take response measures against Turkey if Ankara refused to withdraw its forces from the territory. The steps include turning to the UN Security Council and introducing economic sanctions against Turkey.

Despite the tensions in relations between the two countries, Turkey’s Air Force reportedly continues delivering strikes on the positions in northern Iraq of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Ankara regards as a terrorist organization.

Russia-Turkey tensions

Relations between Russia and Turkey hit a low after the incident on November 24 when a Turkish F-16 fighter jet brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber, which, Ankara alleges, violated the country’s airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Turkey’s attack will have "serious consequences" for Russian-Turkish relations. Putin said Ankara’s attack against the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 plane, which took part in Russia’s antiterrorism operation in Syria and did not present a threat to Turkey, was a "stab in Russia’s back" delivered by terrorists’ accomplices.

Late last month, Putin signed a decree on a provisional ban on employing Turkish citizens in Russia as of January 1, 2016. The same decree suspends visa-free traveling between the two countries and imposes restrictions on the imports of certain commodities from Turkey.

Russia's military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia. 

In mid-November, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants. As the Russian Defense Ministry reported, Russia’s air grouping has focused on destroying terrorist-controlled oil extraction, storage, transportation and refining facilities.

Russian Navy ships and submarines were also included in the operation. 

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