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Russia demands UN Security Council meet over Syria

© AFP | Russian fighter jets on the tarmac at the Russian Hmeimim military base in Latakia province, in the northwest of Syria, on February 16, 2016.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-02-19

Russia called for a UN Security Council meeting Friday over fears of a possible Turkish ground operation in Syria, after Ankara mooted a possible joint intervention with Gulf and Western allies. The meeting is due to begin at 9pm Paris Time (GMT+1).

"Russia intends to convene a UN Security Council meeting today to discuss this issue and to introduce a draft resolution calling for a halt to any actions that would undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Turkey has called for a joint ground operation in Syria with its international allies, insisting that such an intervention was the only way to stop the country's five-year civil war.

A senior Turkish official said on Tuesday that Ankara wanted such an operation to be carried out with it allies, but emphasised there were no plans to act unilaterally.

Russia is currently flying a bombing campaign in Syria to back up the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, who is fiercely opposed by Turkey and its allies.

Turkey is part of a separate US-led coalition that is carrying out its own air strikes in Syria, targeting jihadists from the Islamic State group.

Turkey on Friday also intensified its near week-long shelling of positions in Aleppo province, where it has sought to halt the advance of a Kurdish-led alliance against rebel forces.

Ties between Turkey and Russia have broken down since Ankara blasted one of Moscow's fighter jets out of the sky along its border with Syria in November.

Meanwhile, Russian and American officials held talks on Friday in Geneva to discuss a stalled ceasefire deal in Syria, Russia's foreign ministry said.

The sit-down between military officials and diplomats is meant to pave the way for a broader meeting of international players involved in the conflict as a hoped-for ceasefire in Syria failed to materialise.

"Russia and the United States are holding consultations at the expert level on issues that will be submitted for approval" to the broader international group, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

No time has yet been set for such a broader meeting, she added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-02-19

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