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US has been arming Kurdish units in Syria, ignoring Turkey position - Lavrov

The United States has some strategy, which is geared to keep its military presence in Syria forever, he said
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS

MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS/. Washington has been staking on Syrian Kurds, supplying Kurdish groups with weapons and ignoring Turkey’s position, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Euronews television channel on Friday.

Turkey’s position, in his words, is that some of Kurd groups operating in Syria are branches of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is listed as a terrorist organization in a range of countries. "Turkey has repeatedly said it would do its utmost to prevent the Kurds from taking control of the border between Syria and Turkey," he said. "Despite that, the Americans have been arming, I would say, heavily arming, Kurdish units totally ignoring Turkey’s position. From the very beginning of their activities in Syria, the Americans have been staking on Kurds and turning a deaf ear to Turkey’s protests."

"A couple of months ago, the United States suddenly announced its plans to establish 30,000-strong, mostly Kurdish, force to safeguard the border security zone between Syria and Turkey," Lavrov said. "Later on, they made clumsy attempt to disavow their own statements that facts indicate the this disavowal did not change their intentions. Then, Turkey announced what it announced (on January 20, the Turkish military launched the Olive Branch Operation near Syria’s Afrin, home to about 1.5 million Kurds and refugees from other Syrian regions)."

According to the Russian top diplomat, Turkey’s operation in Afrin was no big surprise for him. "Washington was simply turning a deaf ear to Ankara’s repeated warnings," he added.

Dangerous game

Nevertheless, he said, the United States does have a strategy in Syria. "Obviously, the United States has some strategy, which, I think, is geared to keep its military presence in Syria forever," he noted. "They are seeking to do the same in Iraq and in Afghanistan, despite all the previous promises."

The Russian minister pointed to the fact that Washington is obviously seeking to alienate a vast part of Syria’s territory. "They [the United States] seem to be seeking to alienate a vast part of the Syrian territory from the rest of the country in violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said. "They are forming quasi-local authorities in a bid to establish a Kurd-based autonomy there."

"It is very dangerous to play the Kurdish card keeping in mind only own geopolitical designs in one part of this region, which the United States is currently demonstrating," Lavrov stressed. "It may entail big problems in a number of other countries with Kurdish population, which are facing the Kurdish problem."

"It is necessary to think how to ensure equal right for Kurds in the present-day national borders rather than try to disturb this region our Western colleagues have been doing throughout the entire last century," the Russian minister underscored.