Ankara summons Moscow envoy as Russia shows support for YPG

23 March 2017 –  Rudaw 1 hour ago – Russian forces in Rojava’s Afrin canton. ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador after a Turkish soldier was killed allegedly by cross-border fire from Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria amid increasing Russian presence side-by-side Kurdish armed groups.

“It was announced that they should do whatever necessary to prevent similar incidents from happening and that if it is experienced [again], there will be retaliation in kind,” Huseyin Muftuoglu, spokesperson for Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Thursday, confirming the meeting that took place the day before. Muftuoglu said Thursday’s cross-border fire came from areas under control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Protection Units (YPG). “However, the Russian chargé d’affaires was summoned because Russia is responsible for monitoring violations in this region. Through the visit of Russian chargé d’affaires, our views about the involvement of Russian military elements in Afrin were repeated.”

The YPG reported that Turkish forces carried out several attacks on their positions this week and that they returned fire.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday stated that their forces have been deployed to the Afrin region “in the contact area between detachment of the Kurdish militia and formations of the Free Syrian Army controlled by the Turkish party (near Afrin in the Aleppo province),” in order to monitor the ceasefire and prevent any violations. Russia denied they were establishing a base in the area after the YPG announced they had direct relations with Russian forces and were receiving training from them. Photos of Russian forces in the Kurdish canton of Afrin have been shared on social media in recent days. Rudaw obtained cell phone footage of Russian military vehicles flying the flags of the YPG and the Kurdish women’s armed group YPJ alongside the Russian flag.