President Rouhani Calls for Further Iran-Russia-Turkey Talks on Syria

President Rouhani Calls for Further Iran-Russia-Turkey Talks on Syria

State news outlets in Damascus on Monday announced government troops would arrive in the city, which sits along the Syrian-Turkish border, within days.

SANA accused Turkey of violating Syrian sovereignty and "thwarting the attempt of the regime of Erdogan and his mercenaries from the terrorist organizations to occupy the region".

"If the regime is entering to protect the [Kurdish militia group] YPG, then no-one can stop us, stop Turkey or the Turkish soldiers", Mr Cavusoglu said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier on Tuesday he had headed off the deployment through a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turkey has consistently warned Syrian forces against intervening in support of the Kurds. A pro-government presence in Afrin could complicate Turkey's military operations there, which are now focused on Kurdish military targets.

There was some opposition to the deal that could stand in its way, he added.

Ankara and Turkish-backed rebels said on Monday that a potential pro-government presence in Afrin would not affect their battles to drive YPG forces from northwestern Syria.

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"We did not go there to burn it down", he said, insisting the operation's aim was to "create a safe and livable area" for the Syrian refugees inside Turkey, who fled across the border since the conflict began in 2011 and who now number more than three million. "So far, the Syrian army has not fulfilled its duty towards Afrin".

Large elements of the YPG or PYD make up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US -backed confederation of Arab and Kurdish paramilitaries who flushed ISIS from its Syrian capital of Raqqa past year. In the case of the Afrin offensive, Washington has said it supports Turkey's right to defend itself, while calling for Ankara to show restraint.

Jana Jabbour, a political science professor at Sciences Po university in Paris, said the Turks were "struggling to move forward" because of the "organisation of the Kurdish YPG forces and their combativeness".

Jia Kurd told Reuters on Sunday that Syrian army troops would deploy along some border positions under the deal between the Kurdish fighters and Damascus.

Ankara regards the YPG as indistinguishable from the PKK, though the groups say they are independent from each other. Ankara considers them to be terrorist groups linked to an insurgency inside its own borders.

The Afrin offensive has put strains on the complex ties between the warring sides in northern Syria and their external supporters. The YPG has always been supported by the United States in the fight against the so-called Islamic State group and were responsible for seizing their self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), backed by its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG), has dominated the Kurdish areas of northern Syria since 2012.