MOSCOW, June 20. /TASS/. Russia continues talks with Turkey on the country's planned operation in Syria and hopes to persuade Ankara not to carry it out by political and diplomatic means, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters on Monday.
"We hope, we are counting on it," he said, responding to a TASS question about the possibility of persuading Turkey to give up on the planned operation in Syria. "We continue bilateral contacts with our Turkish colleagues. We continue to work with them," Bogdanov added.
Earlier on Monday, the TGRT TV channel reported that the Turkish army is fully prepared to launch a new cross-border operation in Syria and is waiting for the order to start it.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has previously said that the operation in northern Syria could be launched at any time, initially, it will be aimed at liberating the Tell Rifaat and Manbij areas from terrorists. He cited the expansion of the 30-kilometer security zone created in October 2019 after Operation Peace Spring as the main goal.
Local media reported that 50,000 Turkish troops and 5,000 fighters of the Ankara-controlled so-called Syrian Free Army are expected to participate in the operation. The operation, as noted, will allow Turkey to control a 600-kilometer stretch of the border with Syria and minimize terrorist threats emanating from the neighboring territory.
In particular, as the Hurriyet newspaper notes, areas seized six years ago by the Syrian People's Self-Defense Forces will be liberated and security corridors will be expanded. Thus, the areas on the west bank of the Euphrates will be completely cleared of pro-Kurdish forces, which Turkey considers an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). As a result of Turkey's earlier operations in northern Syria, a security zone was created between the cities of Aazaz and Jerablus north of Aleppo, Afrin was occupied and the border areas east of the Euphrates were taken under control.