MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. Washington’s new plans to train the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to guard the Syrian-Turkish border will not help resolve the crisis surrounding the Syrian city of Afrin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at his annual news conference on Monday.
"Russia has serious questions in this regard, from the standpoint of Syria’s territorial integrity," he said, pointing to the US plan to train members of the Syrian border security service based on the SDF units, which mainly comprise Kurdish groups. "However, there is also the Turkish-Kurdish conflict involved. This new provocative unilateral step will in no way help resolve the Afrin situation," Lavrov added.
"As for the situation in Afrin and in Syria in general, we all have been tackling these issues, seeking to ensure the ceasefire agreements," the Russia top diplomat noted.
"The Kurds are definitely part of the Syrian nation and we need to take their interests into consideration," Lavrov said. He also emphasized the need to respect the Kurds’ interests "while making preparations for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress."
Afrin situation and US plans
Turkey has been paying special attention to the Afrin area since the units of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the People's Protection Units (YPG) are concentrated there, while Ankara considers YPG to be a branch of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party. On January 13, the Turkish armed forces returned fire towards the YPG positions in Afrin.
On the same day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that if "terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, Turkey will destroy them." For the past several months, the Turkish leader has many times pointed to the possibility of a military operation against the YPG units in Afrin.
On January 14, US Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve's Director of Public Affairs Colonel Thomas Veale told TASS that the United States was training the Syrian border security service personnel, which was expected to reach a total strength of around 30,000.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on January 14 that Washington’s decision to train YPG troops to guard the Syrian-Turkish border was unacceptable.