Turkey is in detailed talks with Russia over the conflict in Syria, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Thursday, Anadolu reported.
Kurtulmus was the latest senior government figure to raise the possibility of Turkey-Russia cooperation in Syria.
Two weeks ago, Turkey reinforced its border near Afrin in northern Syria and shelled the PKK/PYD in retaliation for attacks on the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army.
It has been suggested that Russian and Turkish troops could cooperate in northern Syria to create buffer zones between Russian-backed regime forces to the south and opposition forces in the north.
“We are talking about Syria in detail with the Russians,” Kurtulmus told reporters in Turkey’s northwestern province of Bolu.
Using a different acronym for the PKK/PYD, Kurtulmus added: “The Russians know our sensitivity and they know our discomfort, especially on the presence of PYD/YPG elements in the Afrin region.”
Afrin is controlled by the PKK/PYD, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which has waged a 33-year terror campaign in Turkey.
The PKK is also designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU but the U.S. views the PKK/PYD as its ally against Daesh in Syria.
“Any act of any terrorist organization in Syrian territory, especially in the regions close to Turkey, is a direct security issue for Turkey,” Kurtulmus said.
He added that it would be “unacceptable” if the PKK/PYD acted against Turkey. “We have already announced that we would retaliate doubly to any attack from there,” the minister said, referring to Afrin.
Earlier this week, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara would respond strongly to any threat, regardless of where it came from.
Turkey, Russia and Iran brokered the Astana peace talks, the fifth round of which ended Wednesday, when the three nations agreed to establish a joint working group on de-escalation zones in Syria.
“We hope that de-escalation zones will be realized as soon as possible,” Kurtulmus said.
Turkey intervened directly in Syria last August, when it launched Operation Euphrates Shield to seize territory from Daesh in northern Syria. The operation ended in March.