Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow has evidence that Turkish forces are on Syrian territory despite Ankara’s denial of troops’ entry to the war-torn Arab country.
Lavrov made the remarks in an interview with Ren-TV that was broadcasted on Sunday.
Last December, Moscow also said it has evidence Turkey is involved in the smuggling of oil from areas held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Ankara has strongly rejected the claim.
Russian Defense Ministry officials showed satellite images at a briefing in Moscow, revealing that tanker trucks loaded oil at installations controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, before entering neighboring Turkey.
Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz has rejected that Turkish forces have entered Syrian territory to help foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government. Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, however, said Saudi Arabia and his country could launch a ground operation in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Also on Sunday, Lavrov referred to Turkey’s shelling of Kurdish positions in Syria and called Ankara’s actions on the border with Syria “creeping expansion.”
The Russian foreign minister further noted that despite Ankara’s opposition, Moscow will call on the United Nations to invite Kurdish groups to a new round of talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups which is scheduled for Monday in Geneva, Switzerland.
Turkey’s tanks have shelled positions of Kurdish People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG, over the past few months, accusing them of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.
The YPG, which is nearly in control of Syria’s entire northern border with Turkey, has been fighting against ISIS.
Lavrov also said in the Sunday interview that Moscow was ready to coordinate its operations in Syria with the US so that the northern city of Raqqah could be freed from Takfiri militants.
ISIS has seized parts of Iraq and Syria, where it has been engaged in bloody acts of terrorism against people of all communities, Press TV reported.