March 20, 2017 1:26 pm

Russia denies it’s planning to open new military bases in Syria

In this frame grab from video provided by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service, Russian long range bomber Tu-22M3 flies during a strike above an undisclosed location in Syria on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2015. Russia denies it has plans for new military bases in Syria.

Russian Defence Ministry press service photo via AP

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.

The U.S.-backed YPG — which Turkey views as a terrorist group — has proven to be one of the most effective forces battling the Islamic State group, and has carved out a semi-autonomous zone along the Turkish frontier.

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“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.

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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.

Reporting by Alexander Winning and Tatiana Ustinova; Editing by Christian Lowe. With a file from the Associated Press.

© 2017 Thomson Reuters

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