Ankara is closely monitoring Russian troop activity on its border with Syria, AFP reported on Friday.
Troop movement takes place days before the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the opposition are expected for talks UN auspices in Geneva. Turkey suggests troop movements are an attempt by Moscow to show muscle, and thereby to frame the course of the talks.
Over a 100 Russian servicemen have been seen in Qamishli, building a base next to an airfield south of the border town. When ready, this would be a Russian base similar to the one in Hmeimim, in Latakia. The town is right on the border with Turkey, across the Turkish town of Nusaybin.
In addition, since the downing of a Russian Su-24 jet-fighter plane in Syria by two Turkish F16 Jet-fighters in November, Russia has deployed an S-400s missile defense system in Latakia, close to the Turkish border.
Turkey is reinforcing the region with additional troops, Hurriyet reports.
Addressing the Parliament, Turkey’s education Minister accused Russia of working shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) militia which, according to Ankara, is PKK’s Syrian wing.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu condemned Russia’s cooperation with Kurdish fighters in the region.
Turkey regards the Kurdish YPG forces in Syria a terrorist group, that is, a branch of PKK. The Turkish Prime Minister in Davos took a step further to equate ISIL and Kurdish terrorism. There is clearly a cleavage between what Turkey and its allies consider a terrorist group in Syria. The US and the EU have indeed designated the PKK a terrorist organization, but NATO allies do not consider the Syrian YPG Kurdish force as being a branch of PKK. Moreover, Turkey-backed Turkmen fighters in Syria fight shoulder-to-shoulder with Jabhat al-Nusra, that is, the local wing of Al Qaeda, which NATO allies definitely consider a terrorist group.