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Moscow calls on Ankara to stop violence in Turkey’s southeast — diplomat

March 17, 16:04 UTC+3
Moscow insists that the Syrian opposition be fully represented at the inter-Syrian talks and include the Kurds
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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

© Artiom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, March 17. /TASS/. Russia is calling on Turkey to stop violence against the Kurdish population in the country’s southeast and return to the path of political settlement of the problem, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Thursday.

"Despite assertions of the Turkish state’s authorities on the successful completion of the counterterrorism operation, as they called it, in some districts in the country’s southeast, the level of violence there unfortunately is not declining," Zakharova said.

The diplomat noted that many new districts in Turkey’s Kurd-populated provinces were declared "closed security zones", which envisions curfew with relevant restrictions for local residents.

"Both human rights organizations and mass media report on the death of civilians as a result of strikes of the Turkish Air Force, mass human rights violations during military operations," Zakharova said.

"According to a representative of Turkey’s People’s Democratic Party, 150 civilians have died in the long-suffering [town of] Cizre alone [in Sirnak Province] during hostilities, underway since December 2015. Overall, some 500 people have been killed in that province in the period of clashes," she said.

According to some assessments, the number of internal migrants in Turkey, forced to flee the country’s southeast, may reach 1 million people, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"We are again calling on Ankara to ensure the required conditions for termination of violence and to return to the path of peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue," she underscored. "We believe its solution lies solely in the political perspective."

Moscow wants Kurds to participate in negotiations on Syria

According to the spokeswoman, Moscow insists that the Syrian opposition be fully represented at the inter-Syrian talks and include the Kurds.

"It is vitally important for the Syrian opposition to be fully represented at the talks, including the Kurdish forces, which are in the first ranks of struggle against terrorism," the Russian diplomat said.

"We are invariably stressing the need to implement the principles of the inter-Syrian dialogue enshrined in the Geneva communique, the documents adopted by the International Syria Support Group and UN Security Council resolution 2254 without singling out a separate isolated group from a broad range of the Syrian opposition that would position itself as the only equal partner for negotiations with the official Damascus government," Zakharova said.

"In contacts with regional and international partners, we urge them to maximally contribute to success of negotiations. Maybe there won’t be any other chance to achieve peace and stability in the foreseeable future. The forces that want to disrupt the peace process have put stakes on continued violence in Syria," Zakharova said.

Experts study Russian media reports on Turkey’s violation of Kurdish rights

Russian experts are studying the materials of the Russia Today English-language channel on violation of the rights of Kurds in Turkey, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.

"We asked Russia Today for detailed information after an RT correspondent had asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the investigation of crimes committed against the Kurds at one of the minister’s news conferences. RT provided the information yesterday of which the minister has been informed. Our experts are going to analyze the videos. After that we are going to share our assessments," the Russian diplomat said.

"Any reports, especially if they are documented, on mass and gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law should be investigated," Lavrov told journalists at one of his recent news conferences.

"As for the interim results of your appeals [the RT inquiry about Turkey’s actions in the Kurdish-populated regions] to international organizations, which, as you say, sent you an informal reply, we are asking you to send us the copies of your letters so that we could form our own opinion," Lavrov said.

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