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Offensive in Syria ‘possible at any time’, Turkish official says despite Russian-brokered rapprochement

Turkey says a new ground offensive is "possible any time" in Syria, as Ankara continues to target purported positions of the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the northeastern part of the Arab country.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made the remarks on Saturday, following a Russian-brokered rapprochement between Turkey and Syria two days earlier.

“A ground operation is possible any time, depending on the level of threats we receive,” he said, stressing, “Turkey never targets the Syrian state or Syrian civilians.”

Kalin further noted that the Russian push for peace did not mean Turkey was abandoning the option of launching a new campaign that it has been warning might happen for months.

On Thursday, Syria tied a Moscow-brokered rapprochement with Turkey to end Ankara’s occupation of the northern parts of the Arab country and its support for militant groups wreaking havoc and fighting against the Damascus government.

Syria’s Assad ties rapprochement with Turkey to 'end of occupation'

The rapprochement was reached after foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Syria met to discuss peace and stability in the region and in the Arab country.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kalin said the two sides will hold a “series of meetings” in preparation for a possible presidential summit.

The Turkish official went on to say a proposed meeting between the foreign ministers, expected to be held in Moscow, could take place in mid-February.

He also said that meeting might be preceded by another round of talks between the defense ministers.

Kalin’s comments come as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said future talks with Ankara should aim for “the end of occupation” by Turkey of parts of Syria.


Leaders of Turkey, Syria may meet to discuss peace, stability: Erdogan

Turkey cut off its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant and hugely deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants and terrorists, including those allegedly supported by Ankara.

Since 2016, Turkey has conducted three major ground operations against US-backed militants based in northern Syria.

The Turkish government accuses the YPG militants of bearing ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party militant group.

Syria considers the Turkish presence on its soil to be illegal, saying it reserves the right to defend its sovereignty against the occupying forces.

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