Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday suggested the campaign of airstrikes in Syria involving planes, artillery and drones was just "the beginning." Turkey launched the operation, which is also taking place in Iraq, as an initial response to a bombing that occurred in Istanbul earlier this month, which Ankara blames on Syrian militants. The Kurdish groups deny any responsibility. "Our determination to secure all our southern border... with a safe zone is stronger today than ever before," Erdogan told lawmakers in parliament. "While we press ahead with air raids uninterrupted, we will crack down on terrorists also by land at the most convenient time for us."
Moscow calls for calm
Also on Wednesday, Russia reiterated its stance, calling on Turkey to hold back on launching a full-scale ground offensive against militants in Syria. "We hope our arguments will be heard in Ankara and other ways of resolving the problem will be found," senior Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev said after a fresh round of Syria talks with Turkish and Iranian delegations in Kazakhstan. Lavrentyev also said the United States was guilty of plotting a "destructive" path in northeastern Syria, and that resolving the Kurdish issue would be an important factor in stabilizing the situation in the region. The US has allied itself with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the YPG Kurdish militia, in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. Washington's alliances have not gone down well in Ankara, though.
Russia and Turkey have already been in deep dialogue at various stages of this year, as Ankara seeks a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine, hosting a number of high-profile negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.
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