By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - The US supports the "separatist sentiments" of some leaders of the "Syrian Kurds" and openly pursues a line to separate these territories from the rest of the country, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
Zakharova referred to the YPG terror group, the Syrian branch of the internationally designated terrorist organization PKK.
Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, Zakharova called the "illegal" military presence of the US "the main obstacle" to reconciliation between the "self-proclaimed administration of the northeast" part of Syria and its government.
"We are making efforts to encourage dialogue between representatives of the self-proclaimed administration of the northeast of Syria and the government of the Syrian Arab Republic to return the Euphrates to the common space of the Syrian state.
"The main obstacle is still the illegal US military presence. The Americans support the separatist sentiments of some leaders of the Syrian Kurds and openly pursue a line of separation from Damascus of these territories," the spokeswoman said.
She noted that the occupied territories are "rich in oil and other natural resources."
"We have repeatedly talked about this, and in contacts with Kurdish representatives, we consistently pursue the idea that betting on an alliance with Washington instead of building normal interaction with the central government of Syria is counterproductive and short-sighted," she stressed, promising to continue "the relevant work."
- Türkiye's counter-terrorism operation in Syria
Speaking on Türkiye's counter-terrorism operation in Syria, Zakharova said Moscow is working closely with the Syrian and Turkish "partners" to prevent an escalation of the situation in the north of Syria in the light of "Ankara's announced plans to conduct a ground military operation on Syrian territory."
"We believe that such a step will lead to a further deterioration of the already difficult situation in this area of Syria and will negatively affect the situation in the region as a whole," she added.
Moscow proceeds from the fact that the establishment of coordination between Ankara and Damascus "meets the tasks of ensuring reliable security in the border zone," Zakharova also said.
"In order to prevent a large-scale escalation, active contacts are being held in an interdepartmental format, including within the framework of the Astana process."
The Astana format talks were launched in 2017 in a bid to restore peace and stability in the Arab country, which has been ravaged by war since 2011 when Syria's Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters. The last Astana format talks on Syria were held this June.
Recently, Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Sword in northern Iraq and Syria, a cross-border aerial campaign against the terror group PKK/YPG, which has illegal hideouts across the Iraqi and Syrian borders where they plan and sometimes execute attacks on Turkish soil.
After the air operation was launched on Nov. 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also signaled a ground operation in northern Iraq and northern Syria to eliminate the terror threat.
Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.