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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/29/20

Clouds of War: Russia sends Warships as Turkey kills 45 Syrian Troops and blackmails Europe with Migration

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Turkey and Russia engaged in a tense dance of negotiation and threat on Friday in the wake of the killing of 34 Turkish soldiers in an air strike the previous day. Russian sources maintained that the Turkish troops were "where they were not supposed to be," and were nested among militant groups Russia and Syria consider terrorists. Russia denies having launched the air strikes on Bahun, but complained that Ankara had not told it about the Turkish troops being there. Turkey contradicts this assertion and says that the position of its troops had been communicated to Russia.

Russia sent two warships through the Bosporus Straits on Friday, in full view of the Istanbul populace, likely heading toward the Tarsus naval base in Syria, leased by Russia. Russian wire services RIA Novosti and Interfax rported that Russian Navy spokesman Aleksei Rulev announced that "The frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich armed with highly accurate Kalibr-NK missile systems are carrying out a planned transit from Sevastopol." The ships and their cruise missiles are certainly a warning to Turkey.

For its part, AFP reports, Turkey announced that it had retaliated by using drones and artillery to strike over 200 Syrian Arab Army targets, killing 45 Syrian soldiers and officers.

Nevertheless, the Syrian Arab Army continued to attempt to take territory in the south of Idlib (Syrian government positions are in red, fundamentalist rebels in green, below).

11:32 AM - Feb 28, 2020

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Friday in an effort to reduce tensions, according to AP, and Erdogan may fly to Moscow early next week.

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Juan Cole is an American academic and commentator on the modern Middle East and South Asia.  He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment (more...)

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