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    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters stand in the town of Tabqa, after capturing it from Islamic State militants this week, Syria May 12, 2017

    Russian Foreign Ministry Warns of Possible Escalation of Situation in N Syria

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    The situation in northern Syria is very likely to escalate in the near future, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – It is very likely that the situation in northern Syria could escalate in the near future given the current tensions between Turkey and Kurdish military groups, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

    "Given Ankara’s threats of starting a new operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces, regular clashes between the Kurds and pro-Turkish illegal armed formations the probability of escalation in northern Syria remains high," Zakharova told a briefing.

    Zakharova pointed out that Russia has seen positive dynamics in the development of the Syrian situation. This improvement, according to the spokeswoman, has direct links to the memorandum on creation of the safe zones across the Middle Eastern nation, a document which came into force earlier this month.

    Turkish media reported Saturday that Turkey was planning new operations against Kurdish armed groups in both Syria and Iraq.

    Tensions between Ankara and the Kurds were heightened in July 2015 when a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group outlawed in Turkey, collapsed over a series of terror attacks allegedly committed by PKK members. Ankara regards the PYD and the YPG as affiliates of the PKK.

    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias that was formed in 2015, and that strives to liberate Northern Syria, particularly the city of Raqqa.

    Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum on the establishment of four safe zones in Syria on May 6 as part of the Astana talks on Syrian settlement. The zones span the northwestern Idlib province and parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, the north of the central Homs province, Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, as well as southern Daraa and Quneitra regions.

    Syria has been in the state of civil war for six years, with government forces fighting against both Syrian opposition groups who strive to overthrow President Bashar Assad, and numerous extremist and terrorist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al Sham, both of which are outlawed in Russia. Russia and Turkey are the guarantors of a nationwide Syrian ceasefire regime that came into force on December 30, 2016.

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    Tags:
    escalation, Syrian crisis, Daesh, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, Syria
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