Russia warns Turkish ground operation in Syria could cause «increased terrorist activity»

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Archive – Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova – LEV RADIN / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The Russian government warned Thursday that a military ground operation by Turkey against Kurdish groups in northern Syria could lead to «an increase in terrorist activity,» following threats to that effect by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

«We understand Turkey’s concerns about threats to its national security, but we also believe that a ground operation on Syrian territory will only increase tensions in the region and lead to an increase in terrorist activity,» Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

Thus, she stressed that Moscow «maintains close contacts with Turkey on the situation in Syria» and defended that the best way to solve security problems is a direct dialogue between Ankara and Damascus, as reported by the Russian news agency TASS.

Erdogan stressed on Wednesday that the new bombing campaign against Kurdish groups in Iraq and Syria «is only the beginning» and reiterated that Ankara will launch ground operations «when it deems appropriate.» He also said he did not rule out a conversation with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, to address the situation.

The Turkish operation, dubbed ‘Sword Claw’ was launched following the Nov. 13 bombing in Istanbul, which left six dead and which Turkey blames on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). However, both the group and the SDF have disassociated themselves from what happened and have expressed their condolences to the victims.

For its part, Russia is one of the main international supporters of the Syrian president and its military intervention in 2015 enabled the government forces to repel rebel advances and regain the initiative on the battlefield.