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Turkey Summons Russian Envoy Over Soldier's Killing, Ties With Syrian Kurds

Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG)
Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG)

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on March 23 that it summoned the Russian charge d'affaires to convey its "deep unease" after a Turkish soldier was killed by sniper fire from a part of Kurdish-held Syria where Russian forces are active.

The Turkish military fired into the northwestern Syrian border region of Afrin, an area controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, after the soldier was killed by cross-border fire on March 22.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said that Ankara summoned diplomat Sergei Panov because Moscow was in charge of monitoring a cease-fire in the border area where the incident occurred.

He said Ankara also conveyed Turkey's concerns over Russia's military presence in Syrian Kurdish-controlled areas and demanded the closure of the YPG's office in Moscow. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting in Turkey.

Turkey is "seriously disturbed" and expects Russia to respect its sensitivities, Muftuoglu said, noting that photos have circulated recently of Russian troops wearing YPG insignia.

Turkey has also protested Washington's reliance on Kurdish YPG fighters in its campaign to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State extremist group, which has led to a cooling of relations between the two NATO allies.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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