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Russia warns of actions that could stall peace process in Syria

Russia’s Security Council has warned against actions that could endanger the peace process in Syria, after Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Ankara was ready for a military operation against Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to push them away from border areas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the consultative body of President Vladimir Putin discussed on Tuesday the creation of a constitutional committee in Syria, and “remarked that at this stage everyone should avoid any actions that can inhibit the peace process” in the war-ravaged Arab country.

Earlier in the day, Peskov said Russia “is following very closely how the situation is developing,” and that Moscow was not informed about the withdrawal of the United States from the region.

“We still don’t know which troops are being withdrawn, in what amount, and whether they are being withdrawn at all.

“There have been various announcements about withdrawals from different parts of the world which later were not confirmed,” the senior Russian official said.

On Monday, Peskov said Russia’s position, recently announced by Putin, is that Syria’s territorial integrity must be preserved and all foreign troops illegally present in the country must leave.

The Kremlin spokesman then commented on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that Ankara is prepared for a cross-border offensive, emphasizing Russia’s call for refraining from actions that may hamper settlement of the Syria crisis.

“In this case, it is important to refrain from any actions that may create obstacles on the path of Syrian settlement. We know that certain perspectives are opening up and we understand that it will be a long and thorny path. And now that the Syrian Constitutional Committee has been formed and when the date for its meetings has been appointed, it is vital to refrain from any steps that may harm Syrian settlement,” he said.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Sunday that Washington had begun withdrawing US troops from Syria’s border with Turkey, adding that the American forces “will not support or be involved in the (Turkish) operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area.”