Russia's Lavrov calls Turkey, Syria to resolve Afrin crisis through 'direct dialogue'

Turkey calls on Washington to take steps against PKK

Turkey plans to manufacture next generation unmanned tanks, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said February 21, according to Turkish media.

Last month, Turkey also launched a military operation in the northern Syrian district of Afrin against the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is regarded by Ankara a organization affiliated with the PKK.

In a statement on Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman warned that any pro-Syrian regime forces attempting to enter the Afrin region would face "serious consequences" after a Syrian military convoy was hit by Turkish artillery fire. "They would pay a heavy price for it", he added.

On Tuesday, the pro-Syrian government forces entered the town of Syria's Afrin enclave to provide reinforcement to Kurdish forces fighting the Turkish offensive.

London's representative of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political branch of the YPG, Alan Shemo, said that Syrian regime forces will facilitate the protection of Afrin's borders.

The Syrian Kurds deny any direct organisational links to the PKK - an assertion backed by the U.S., which has provided the militia and allied Arab fighters with weapons and air support to help them battle the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

Images were aired of "popular forces" loyal to President Bashar Assad moving toward Afrin city in pick-up trucks equipped with anti-aircraft guns and armoured personals carriers (APCs), Efe reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called for direct negotiations between Damascus and Ankara to resolve the Afrin crisis.

The Turkish army on Tuesday attacked pro-Syrian government forces that had arrived in Afrin.

The UN says more than 300,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Idlib since December, while nearly 200 civilians are reported to have been killed in government air and artillery strikes on the Eastern Ghouta since Monday.

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