By Tom O’Connor |News Week|
Russia has warned it would prevent Turkey from attacking Syrian troops after the U.S. withdrew from a looming clash between rival factions in the war-torn country.
Alexander Lavrentiev, the Kremlin’s special envoy to Syria, downplayed the danger of a clash between the Turkish and Syrian militaries, telling RIA Novosti Tuesday that “the collision, first of all, it is not just that no one is interested, it is simply unacceptable.”
“We will not allow this,” he said.
The same outlet cited the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that its troops had been deployed to the front lines between the two opposing armed forces engaged in Syria’s eight-year civil war. Russia, alongside Iran, has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against a rebel and jihadi uprising supported by Turkey.
A third faction, the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces were supported by the U.S., but have been left behind by an ongoing withdrawal as Turkey, a member of the NATO Western military alliance, mobilized Syrian opposition fighters in an operation to take on Kurdish separatists. As a result, the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have struck a deal under Russia to join forces in the face of their common foe.