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Russia treads lightly in Syrian deadlock

Moscow is reacting with marked restraint to the escalation around Ain Issa, even seeming to play along with Ankara, though Turkey and the Syrian National Army have no reason to conduct offensive operations in the area.

In early December, Russia established three observation posts manned by Russian military police near the town of Ain Issa in northeast Syria. Since then, Moscow has been trying unsuccessfully to persuade the command of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to transfer control of the city to the Russian military or the forces of the Syrian regime in order to avoid a possible attack on it by the pro-Turkish Syrian National Army (SNA). At the same time, Russian is not interfering with attempts by the SNA to take new positions in the vicinity of Ain Issa and advance in its direction.

On Monday an SDF commander criticized Russia for not speaking out against recent attacks on the strategic town of Ain Issa in Syria’s Kurdish northeast, a region known to the Kurds as Rojava.

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