MOSCOW, October 26. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks by phone on Saturday, focusing on Syria and the relationship between Moscow and Washington, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

“[They] discussed the situation in Syria. The Russian side placed an emphasis on the need to refrain from any steps undermining that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the ministry said. “Apart from that, certain bilateral issues were touched upon.”

On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. According to various estimates, currently there are about 3.6 to 4 million refugees in Turkey.

On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum at a summit in Sochi on joint efforts in northeastern Syria. Ankara declared its operation de facto suspended. Nevertheless, Turkey holds control of vast swathes where Ankara plans to resettle the refugees.


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