MESOPOTAMIA NEWS REPORT: Russia reinforces its troops facing Turkey in northern Syria

It takes place as the foreign ministers of the two countries hold talks today in Moscow. Turkey is expected to demand the withdrawal of the Kurdish YPG militia from the area

Mandi Kogosowski | 30/12/2020 ISRAEL DEFENSE

Russia announced that it reinforced its military police force presence in the area of the town of Ain Issa in northern Syria, an area in which the rebel forces, supported by Turkey, are fighting Kurdish soldiers, according to a report by Reuters. An additional deployment of forces is taking place as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Kavusoglu hold talks today (Wednesday) in Moscow.

The area in question is in Syrian Kurdistan, next to the strategic highway connecting the country’s major cities that is used for patrols by both Russian forces and forces of Turkey. Rebel forces took control of parts of the area during an attack last year against the Kurdish YPG militia, and additional battles took place over the last few weeks.

The foreign ministers are expected to focus their talks on the topic of Syria, where, as previously mentioned, they are on opposite sides of the fence: Turkey supports the rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia is Assad’s ally. A senior Turkish defense official told Reuters that Ankara will demand that Moscow use its influence for the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia, which Turkey calls a “terrorist organization”, from the area. A spokesman for the main rebel group, “the Free Syrian Army”, which is supported by Turkey, claimed during a conversation with the news agency that the Kurds used the town of Ain Issa to initiate a series of terrorist attacks that led to the killing of dozens of civilians.

In other news regarding Turkey, President Erdogan announced Monday that a free trade agreement will be signed Tuesday with Britain, and it will go into effect when Britain officially leaves the European Union at the end of the year. The British Trade Ministry announced that the deal will actually “replicate” the existing trade terms between the two sides. It is the first deal announced by London since the trade agreement reached last week with the European Union. In 2019, the volume of trade between the countries exceeded $25 billion.