Turkish military rejects Russian claims of incursion in Syria

Turkish military staff strongly rejects Russian allegations that its armed forces have recently moved inside Syrian territory in order to create some kind of safe zone along border with country

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

The headquarters of the Turkish military staff in Ankara has been shown in this undated photo.

Turkey's military on Monday dismissed the Russian allegations that Turkish troops are inside Syrian territory as "false," according to a statement from the armed forces.

Russia has evidence that Turkish troops are on Syrian territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview broadcast on Sunday, accusing Turkey of a "creeping expansion" on its border with Syria.

The comments by Lavrov are the latest confrontation between Moscow and Ankara, after Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border in late November over an airspace violation.

"Turkey has started to declare it has a sovereign right to create some safety zones on Syrian territory," Lavrov told Russian television channel Ren-TV.

"According to our data, they have already 'dug themselves in' several hundred metres from the border in Syria. ... It's a sort of creeping expansion," he said.

Turkey and Russia have been in disagreement with each other over the Syrian civil war. Turkey and the US-led coalition have consistently defended to bring down the Assad regime, backing opposition groups while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.

Russian intervention into the Syrian conflict began with a bombing campaign on the side of the Assad regime on Sept. 30, targeting mostly Syrian opposition-held territories in the country, rather than DAESH. The intervention has been strongly protested by US, Turkey and the NATO alliance.

However, President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday that "the main part" of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw claiming that the Russian military intervention had largely achieved its objectives in the country.

TRTWorld and agencies