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Moscow urges sides in Afrin to exercise restraint - Russia’s Foreign Ministry

On January 20 Turkey began engaging its Armed Forces near Afrin in northwest Syria

MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. Moscow urges all the warring sides in Syria to show restraint, Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

"According to coming reports, on January 20 Turkey began engaging its Armed Forces near Afrin in northwest Syria. Turkey’s General Staff said that Turkish military had opened fire on Syrian Kurds’ position in response to provocative shelling by militants of Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party," the Russian foreign ministry said.

"Moscow is concerned about the information. We are closely following the situation," it said.

"Russia is adherent to the consistent stance of looking for solutions in Syria, which means to preserve the territorial integrity, respect sovereignty of that country and look for a lasting political solution in line with Resolution 2254 of the United Nations Security Council and agreements of the Astana process on de-escalation zones," the ministry said. "In this context, we are urging all opposing sides to exercise mutual restraint."

"After a defeat of the military and political hotbed of international terrorism personified as ISIS [the Islamic State terrorist group banned in Russia] and withdrawal of major part of the Russian forces from Syria, the key goal of the Russian servicemen staying in the country is to ensure a ceasefire regime in de-escalation zones," the ministry said.

On Saturday, Turkey’s General Staff declared the beginning of Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish units from Self-Defense Forces and Democratic Union Party in Afrin, home to 1.5 million Syrian Kurds. Ankara says that these two groups are affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) recognized as terrorist in Turkey. The national TRT broadcaster said the Operation Olive Branch was launched at 17.00 local time.