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Russia’s Defense Ministry suspects Turkey of preparations for intrusion into Syria

February 04, 18:31 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"We are registering an increasing number of signs of the Turkish armed forces’ hidden preparations for active operations on the territory of Syria," the ministry's spokesman says
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MOSCOW, February 4. /TASS/. The developments on the Turkish-Syrian border suggest Turkey’s intensive preparations for military invasion into Syria, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.

‘We have serious grounds to suspect Turkey of intensive preparations for military intrusion into the territory of the sovereign state — the Syrian Arab Republic. We are registering an increasing number of signs of the Turkish armed forces’ hidden preparations for active operations on the territory of Syria," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told journalists.

Many checkpoints on the Turkish-Syrian border can be used for preparing infrastructure for a military intrusion into Syria, Konashenkov went on to say.

Konashenkov showed the photos of one of the border checkpoints, where grounds protected by security guards were being expanded.

"In wartime, such methods are used for preparing the transport infrastructure ahead of a military intrusion. Such grounds are usually used for ensuring quick movement of military convoys with weapons and ammunition as well as for prompt transportation and evacuation of personnel. There are plenty of such examples, in which troops and military hardware are involved, on the Syrian-Turkish border," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry earlier provided convincing video evidence to the world public that Turkish self-propelled artillery systems were shelling Syrian populated areas in north Latakia.

"We’re surprised that talkative representatives of the Pentagon and NATO and numerous so-called organizations for the protection of human rights in Syria have kept silent so far, despite our call for reacting to these actions," the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has intensified all kinds of reconnaissance in the Middle East, the spokesman said.

"That is why, if someone in Ankara thinks that the cancellation of the Russian inspectors’ observance flight over Turkey will help conceal something, then this looks unprofessional," Konashenkov said.

Turkey provides militants who seized Aleppo and Idlib with weapons at night

 Turkey supplies terrorists in the Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo with militants and weapons at night, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.

Speaking to journalists, the general showed the image of a checkpoint in the Sarmada-Reyhanli area on the border between Turkey and Syria.

"It is via that checkpoint that militants and weapons are transferred, mainly at night, to terrorists who seized the cities of Aleppo and Idlib in northwest Syria," he said.

Konashenkov said US and NATO representatives "like to call these transport caravans with weapons for terrorists ‘humanitarian convoys’." "In Turkey itself, journalists are put in prison for attempts to learn what the convoys transport," he said.

Turkey trying to hide illegal military activity on border with Syria

Turkey’s denial of an observation flight for Russia is Ankara’s attempt to hide illegal military activity on the border with Syria, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman went on to say.

"Such steps of the country which is a NATO member do not at all contribute to strengthening of trust and security in Europe. We interpret these actions by Turkey as a dangerous precedent and an attempt to hide illegal military activity near the border with Syria," Konashenkov said.

The ministry does not plan to disregard and leave without a relevant response the violation of Open Skies Treaty provisions, the general added.

He recalled that Russia had received preliminary consent to the February 1-5 observation flight beforehand, within the time stipulated by law.

Konashenkov underscored that in 2015, within the framework of the Open Skies Treaty, 32 flights of Western countries’ representatives were made along routes mentioned by them, with four flights conducted by observers from Turkey (two of them jointly with US military). He said no critical remarks or complaints on illegal military activity were registered.

The news of the cancelation of the Russian observation flight over Turkish territory came February 3. Chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s department for control of implementation of treaties Sergey Ryzhkov said the flight route in particular envisioned observation of border areas and airfields where NATO aircraft are concentrated.

Ryzhkov said that upon the arrival of the Russian mission in Turkey and announcement of the surveillance flight’s route, the Turkish military denied its holding citing an instruction from the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Later Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said the flight was canceled because Moscow and Ankara failed to agree on its route.

Open Skies Treaty

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and has 34 member states. It entered into force in 2002. Surveillance flights are conducted over Russia, the United States, Canada and European countries.

The key tasks of the treaty are to develop transparency, monitor the fulfillment of armament control agreements, and expand capabilities to prevent crises in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations.

Plans for flight

Ryzhkov earlier said Russian inspectors will perform an observation flight over the territory of Turkey within the framework of the Open Skies Treaty.

"As part of implementation of the international Open Skies Treaty, a Russian group of inspectors plans to conduct a surveillance flight on board a Russian An-30B aircraft over the territory of Turkey," he said February 1.

"The observation flight will be performed on February 1-5, 2016 from the Eskisehir airfield," Ryzhkov said, adding that maximum range of the flight will be 1,900 kilometers. He also said February 1 that the flight would be conducted along an agreed route, and Turkish specialists on board will control the use of surveillance equipment and observation of treaty provisions.

This was supposed to be the first observation flight by Russia over the territories of the Open Skies treaty members in 2016.

Turkey claims Russia violated its airspace

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on January 30 claimed that a Russian Su-34 fighter jet violated its airspace on January 29. "Yesterday the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Su-34 violated Turkish airspace. Before the violation, Turkish radar stations repeatedly warned the Russian aircraft in Russian and in English," the statement said.

It said that on January 29 in the evening "the ambassador of the Russian Federation was summoned to the ministry" and a protest was lodged to him in connection with what happened. The Turkish ministry did not state where the alleged airspace violation occurred exactly.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on January 30 denied claims by Turkey that a Russian Su-34 fighter jet allegedly violated Turkish airspace on Friday.

"There have been no violations of Turkey’s airspace by aircraft of the Russian air group in the Syrian Arab Republic," the ministry said.

"Statements by the Turkish side of an alleged case of violation by the Russian Su-34 aircraft of airspace are unsubstantiated propaganda," ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and has 34 member states. It entered into force in 2002. Surveillance flights are conducted over Russia, the United States, Canada and European countries.

The key tasks of the treaty are to develop transparency, monitor the fulfillment of armament control agreements, and expand capabilities to prevent crises in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations.

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