Turkey may not be able to contain militants from the Islamic State terror group (outlawed in Russia) active in northern Syria while conducting a military operation in the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State.
“There are areas in northern Syria where ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State group – TASS] are active militants. Kurdish units used to keep an eye on those areas but now that Turkish troops are entering the region, they [militants] may just flee away. I’m not sure that the Turkish army will be able to take control of the situation, and quickly,” Putin pointed out.
He added that according to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff, there are hundreds if not thousands of militants in the area. “If we talk about CIS countries, it is a real threat to us all. Where will they [the militants] go? Will they go deeper into Syria, to areas that no one controls, and then move to other countries of the region via Iran? We should understand what things are like there and muster our intelligence resources to thwart this new threat,” Putin said, addressing other CIS leaders.
On October 9, Ankara announced the launch of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, which began with airstrikes on Kurdish positions. The operation’s goal is said to create a buffer zone along the Turkish border, where, according to Ankara, Syrian refugees residing in Turkey could return.