Jan 18 2018

Turkish security chiefs meet Russian Defence Minister in Moscow

Two of Turkey’s top security leaders flew to Moscow on Thursday to discuss the situation in Syria with the Russian Minister of Defence, Sergei Shoigu.

Hulusi Akar, the Turkish Chief of the General Staff, and National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) leader Hakan Fidan, travelled to Moscow for the “surprise visit” as Turkish forces mass on the border of Syria in preparation for an assault on the Kurdish-held city of Afrin.

The northwest Syrian city became the focus of threats from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the reports were published of a 30,000-strong U.S.-backed border force, which would include large numbers of fighters from the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units, considered an extension of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party by Ankara.

The security chiefs discussed “the Middle East and other issues of mutual interest” in a “constructive” meeting in Moscow, the Russian Defence Ministry website reported.

Russian troops are stationed close to Afrin, deepening the diplomatic complications around a Turkish assault on the region.

“We must coordinate with the Russians when we intervene, so that Russian observers in Afrin are not affected”, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said in an interview with CNN Türk on Thursday.