ASTANA, November 23. /TASS/. The Russian delegation at a meeting in Astana with its Turkish counterparts tried to persuade them to refrain from a full-scale ground operation in Syria, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said on Wednesday at a press conference following the 19th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana format.
"We, of course, used the Astana platform to hold very detailed conversations with our Turkish colleagues to try to convince them to refrain from conducting full-scale ground operations," he said.
According to Lavrentyev, if Turkey started the operation, there could be a serious escalation of tensions not only in northeastern Syria, but also in the Middle Eastern region as a whole. "This, of course, cannot be allowed," the envoy stressed.
"We are counting on the fact that our arguments will be heard in Ankara and other options for solving the existing problem will be found," Lavrentyev pointed out.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that a cross-border ground operation in northern Syria against the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the People’s Defense Units, based there and recognized as terrorist organizations by Ankara, could be conducted in the near future.
More than 50 aircraft and 20 drones are taking part in Turkey’s ‘Operation Claw Sword’. Turkish air power is getting ground support from artillery. The strikes were carried out against sites where the Kurdistan Workers' Party and its Syrian branch (the People’s Defense Units), outlawed in Turkey, are said to be located. The Turkish National Defense Ministry reported that the operation was successfully conducted in northern Iraq in the districts of Qandil, Asos and Hakurk, as well as in the districts of Kobani, Tal Rifat, Cizire and Derik in northern Syria.