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Erdogan rebuffs Moscow’s call to hand Afrin to Syrian government

Russia wants Turkey to hand control of Afrin province to Damascus, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the territory will be returned to local residents at Ankara’s discretion.
Turkish soldiers gather in the Kurdish-majority city of Afrin in northwestern Syria after seizing control of it from Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) on March 18, 2018.
Turkish-backed rebels have seized the centre of Afrin city in northern Syria, Ankara said, as they made rapid gains in their campaign against Kurdish forces. A civilian inside Afrin said that rebels had deployed in the city centre and that the YPG militia had withdrawn. / AFP PHOTO / OMAR HAJ KADOUR        (Photo credit should read OM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday rejected a call by Moscow to hand control of Afrin province to the Syrian government, saying Ankara would withdraw its forces when it felt the time was right.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at an April 9 news conference that Moscow expects Turkey to relinquish Afrin to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after having driven out the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in March. He asserted that Erdogan had “never said that Turkey wants to occupy Afrin.”

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