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Kremlin calls Erdogan’s claims of Russian occupation of Syria legally absurd

February 09, 13:28 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to the Kremlin, Russian-Turkish relations are at their record-low over the past decades and no possibility of normalizing them in the near future is in sight at the moment
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Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov

©  Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, February 9. /TASS/. Claims by Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, made in his latest interview, to the effect Russia has allegedly occupied part of Syria, are absurd from the standpoint of international law, Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has told the media.

"As for allegations by Erdogan Russia has occupied part of Syria, from the legal standpoint, from the standpoint of international law they are wrong and absurd," he said.

Peskov recalled that Russia’s Aerospace Force group was in Syria at the invitation of the country’s legitimate leadership. "Consequently, it’s impossible to use the term occupation either de jure or de facto," he said.

About the outlook for establishing relations between Moscow and Ankara Peskov said that Russian-Turkish relations are at their record-low over the past decades and no possibility of normalizing them in the near future is in sight at the moment.

"The relations are in the worst condition over decades. We regret this, but we state unequivocally that Russia is not to blame for this condition," Peskov said.

He recalled that Turkey had committed aggressive and treacherous actions against Russia.

"Turkey has not yet properly qualified these actions or presented the corresponding apologies. For this reason there is no chance to consider some likely ways of normalizing relations. It is not possible," he said.

No reliable proof to allegations about civilian casualties of Russian air strikes in Syria

Dmitry Peskov said also commented on Monday’s statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel about alleged sufferings caused to civilians by Russian air strikes in Syria.

"As for the German chancellor’s words about alleged human casualties caused by Russian air strikes in Syria, it should be noted in this respect that despite a great number of such allegations, no one has ever produced any reliable proof to such words," the Kremlin spokesman said.

He recalled the situation of two-three years ago, when "regrettably, we heard no such assessments to the barbarous actions of terrorists who were advancing on the Syrian territory actually encircling Syria’s armed forces and legitimate authorities." "We heard no such statements from any one back then," Peskov underscored.

"Once again, we call on everyone to be very careful and very responsible in his or her interpretations in the current fragile situation in Syria and around the Syrian settlement," he said.

At a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was shocked by the sufferings of tens of thousands of people caused by Russian air strikes. She called to observe the United Nations Security Council resolution obliging the parties to immediately stop bombardments of civilian population and civilian facilities.

Russia's military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Force started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015. The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia. On October 7, Moscow also involved the Russian Navy in the military operation. Four missile ships of the Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria.

In mid-November, after an alleged terrorist attack on Russian passenger jet that fell in Egypt killing 224 people on board, Moscow increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria by several dozen and involved strategic bombers in the strikes as well. Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries. Russia’s aircraft have made thousands of sorties since the start of the operation in Syria, with over a hundred of them performed by long-range aircraft.

On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber involved in Moscow’s military operation against the Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia).  Ankara claimed the warplane violated the Turkey’s airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory without violating Turkey’s airspace. The Russian president referred to the attack as a “stab in Russia’s back” and promised that the move would cause response action from Russia. Moscow deployed new S-400 air defense systems in Syria in order to protect the warplanes involved in the military operation and started arming the fighters intended to provide air support to bombers and attack aircraft in Syria with air-to-air missiles.

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