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Moscow accuses Turkey of blocking Syria crisis settlement — diplomat

February 15, 2016, 15:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, Ankara wants a buffer zone controlled by Turkey in northern Syria

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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. The crisis settlement in Syria is hindered by a tough stance and unconstructive actions of Turkey’s authorities, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has said in an interview with Germany’s Spiegel magazine.

"Ankara wants a buffer zone controlled by Turkey to be created in northern Syria," the diplomat said in the interview published on Monday on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website. "We would like Turkey to play a more constructive role," he added.

The Turkish side has been supplying the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group with arms, the diplomat said. "This is registered by our monitors and satellites," he said. "This is a fact. Everyone knows that the IS exports oil through the border with Turkey."

Another stumbling block in the intra-Syrian peace talks is the issue on the participation of the Kurds, the largest ethnic minority in Syria. Moscow stresses that the Kurds make up a significant part of Syria’s population and their participation is needed for the success of the political settlement.

"The Kurds are an important part of the Syrian society, they have the military force on the ground and fight against the IS and other terrorist groups," Gatilov said. "They have every right to participate in the negotiating process."

Meanwhile, Ankara has a tough stance on the participation of the Kurds in the talks. "Turkey is strongly opposed to this and even threatens to withdraw from the dialogue," the diplomat said.

The intra-Syrian negotiations, which began in Geneva in early February, were suspended days later until February 25. UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said that the sides had focused on discussing procedural issues rather than on the solution of certain tasks.

Speaking on the possible breakthrough at the talks, Gatilov said: "Many things depend on Turkey," adding: "Unfortunately, its position is not constructive now. Ankara has its own ambitions and its own agenda in the region."

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