Asharq Al-Awsat learned from informed Turkish sources yesterday that Russia has sent a letter to western countries in an attempt to forestall any Saudi – Turkish ground intervention in Syria to fight ISIS by offering to shift the regime’s operations to the governorate of Raqqah which ISIS has controlled for the last 30 days.
The sources said that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent the letter to his western counterparts and added that the regime is preparing for a large military operation in Raqqah and therefore there is no need for any foreign ground intervention. However, the same sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that talk of Turkish intervention in Syria is “premature” and stressed that Turkey is considering all options and “will not compromise its national security”.
This Russian move came at a time when all eyes are on the Turkish-Syrian border which saw an increase in Turkish bombardment of Kurdish sites yesterday in addition to joint Turkish-Saudi military maneuvers in that region. The Turkish sources added that Saudi – Turkish coordination is very strong and said that the joint military maneuvers with Saudi aviation planned for more than six months are not ready to be carried out but the seriousness of the situation at the Syrian border makes it necessary to do something about it.
Meanwhile, the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura held talks with the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem in Damascus yesterday which related to facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all besieged areas in the country.
The Deputy Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Farhan Haq described de Mistura’s meeting with Al-Moualem as beneficial and added that it will test the Syrian government’s commitment to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to all Syrians. He also said that they agreed on allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered to 7 regions which include Deir Al-Zour, Al-Fua, Kefraya in Idlib, Madaya and Zabadani, Kafr Batna in Mudamiyat Al-Sham and rural Damascus.