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Russia Denies Plans for New Military Bases in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian military jets are seen at Hmeymim air base in Syria, June 18, 2016. REUTERS/Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry via Reuters/File Photo

Russia does not plan to open new military bases in Syria, the defense ministry said on Monday, after the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said it had reached a deal with Moscow for a new military base in northwestern Syria.

“There are no plans to deploy new Russian military bases on the territory of Syria,” the defense ministry statement read. It added that a section of its “reconciliation center”, which Russia says helps negotiate local truces between the warring sides in Syria, was located in Aleppo province near Afrin for the prevention of ceasefire violations.

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil told Reuters that Russian troops had already arrived in the northwestern region of Afrin with troop carriers and armored vehicles as part of an agreement concluded on Sunday.

One of the major forces in the Syrian conflict, the YPG is also a military ally of the United States and is playing a major part in US-backed operations against ISIS in areas of Syria further to the east.

On the other hand, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus aid that Turkey will not accept a “region of terror” in northern Syria and the ethnic structure of the area should be kept intact.

His comments at news conference in Ankara came after the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia said Russia was setting up a military base in northwestern Syria and would help train YPG fighters.

Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).YPG forces control over swathes of northeastern Syria and the Afrin region of its northwest is of great concern to Turkey.