TEHRAN: While Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence says it is still preparing for an offensive in northern Syria, a report by Bloomberg citing a Turkish official says the troops have already begun crossing into Syrian territory.
Earlier, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote that Turkish forces, “together with the Free Syrian Army,” a military formation Damascus considers to be a terrorist group, would “cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly,” according to Sputnik.
Meanwhile, a report by Bloomberg citing a Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity says Turkish troops have begun crossing into northeastern Syria to force back the Kurds in the border area.
However, a Sputnik Turkey correspondent challenged the claims, suggesting that Turkish troops and vehicles had not yet crossed the Syrian border.
The development comes days after Donald Trump said the US wouldn’t stand in the way of Turkey’s military operation on Syrian territory.
Reacting to the news, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov encouraged the establishment of dialogue between Syrian Kurds and the government in Damascus.
“We contacted both the representatives of the Kurdish side and the representatives of the government and confirmed that we are encouraging them to start a dialogue to resolve the problems of this part of Syria, including the problems of ensuring security on the Turkish-Syrian border. As before, this is the only way to achieve stability,” Lavrov said at a news conference in Kazakhstan.
Lavrov also warned that recent moves from the United States could “ignite” the entire region again.
Iraq, meanwhile, has sent military equipment to shared borders with Syria to counter any possible unexpected incidents due to Turkey’s offensive, according to Iraqi military sources.
Iran has voiced its opposition to any military action in Syria, saying a Turkish offensive on Syrian territory would result in widespread human and material damage. Iran also voiced readiness to make immediate contacts with Turkish and Syrian officials to solve the differences in a peaceful manner.