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Saturday, February 13, 2016
'New cold war inches closer' after Turkey bombs targets in Syria just hours after Russia's chilling threat
Turkey's military has provoked Russian president Vladimir Putin by bombing targets in Syria - just hours after the Kremlin warned that such action could lead to a "new cold war".
The country's army targeted Kurdish militia near the town of Azaz in northern Syria.
A Turkish government source confirmed the attack, despite the Kermlin's warning earlier today that Turkey and Saudi Arabia's proposed anti-ISIS action in the country could lead to a major world conflict.
The source said: "The Turkish Armed Forces fired shells at PYD positions in the Azaz area" referring to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey regards as a terrorist organisation.
Earlier today the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he was fed up of Russia being accused of war crimes in Syria.
He told the Munich Security Conference: "Almost every day we are accused of making new horrible threats either against NATO as a whole, against Europe, or against the US or other countries."
Defending his country's actions in the war-torn country, Medvedev said only regular cooperation between Russia and the US could lead to a normalisation of the situation in Syria .
Medvedev said he saw no need to 'scare anyone' with a ground operation - just as rival Turkey threatened to do exactly that.
"I want to emphasise that regular cooperation between Russia and the United States will be crucial," he added.
"And I mean regular - every day."
And now Turkey's action could provoke Russia further.
Yesterday it emerged that troops and jets from Saudi have been reportedly been sent to a military base in Turkey ahead of any potential action.
In addition to fighting ISIS, Saudi wants to remove Syria's Bashar al-Assad from power which is in stark contrast to Russia that wants to keep him there.
All this comes as Russia continued bombing the country despite an agreement between major powers on Friday there should be a ceasefire.
Assad himself threatened to scupper a ceasefire agreement yesterday by vowing to keep fighting until he had taken back “the whole country”.
Just hours earlier, diplomats meeting in Munich had brokered a truce between Assad’s government forces and the Syrian rebel army.
Although billed as a potential breakthrough, the "cessation of hostilities" agreement does not take effect for a week, at a time when Assad's government is poised to win its biggest victory of the war with the backing of Russian air power.
In a rare interview, Assad told AFP news agency he would continue to fight “terrorism” while the peace talks took place.
But he accepted retaking the country would “take time.”
The fragile deal in Munich will hopefully see a halt in the fighting in the five-year civil war from next week.
The conditions only apply to the Assad forces and the opposition army and will not end the military operation against ISIS nor a halt to the Russian air strikes.
The United Nations said it hoped to start delivering aid to the country within the next 24 hours.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned the peace deal would succeed only if Russia ceased bombing moderate opposition groups.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Channel 4 News: “They (Russia) are lying. We estimate that at least 70%, possibly more of their air strikes have been in areas where there is no Daesh at all, where the terrorists aren’t.
“They’ve simply been targeting moderate opposition to the Assad regime.
"They’ve been killing hundreds of innocent civilians and there is mounting evidence they are deliberately now targeting food shops, mosques, bakeries and driving the population out of its towns and villages north towards the Turkish border.
"Indeed, fuelling the refugee crisis.
“We’ve had tentative agreement on a future partial ceasefire, which is very welcome.
"But there’s no reason why Russia shouldn’t implement it immediately and stop the bombing particularly of innocent civilians and help lift the siege of Aleppo, which otherwise will be the next Sarajevo.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said a lasting peace would only be achieved if Russia stopped bombing rebel forces.
“Russia has mainly targeted opposition groups and not ISIL. Air strikes of Russian planes against different opposition groups in Syria have actually undermined the efforts to reach a negotiated, peaceful solution,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the proposed truce was a “pause” and a permanent ceasefire would need “genuine negotiation” between Assad and the opposition army.