The Russian President doubted whether Erdogan’s forces could keep a lid on the situation that has up until now been the responsibility of Washington. He said while on a state visit to Turkmenistan: “I’m not sure if the Turkish army can rapidly get this under control. “There are zones located in the north of Syria where Daesh (ISIS) militants are concentrated. They were guarded until now by Kurdish armed forces. Now the Turkish army is going in, the Kurds are abandoning these camps. They could just escape.” ISIS have been almost completely forced out of Syria thanks to efforts on the ground by US-backed Kurdish forces, as well as Russian intervention in the form of devastating airstrikes which have killed around 5000 ISIS fighters as well as 14,000 other casualties including civilians.
The strikes were a product of Putin’s loyalty to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Moscow being a longstanding ally helping the regime to fend off various opponents including ISIS.
However, the Russian President is now worried that his work to help drive the death-cult out of Syria has been undone by Erdogan’s assault in northeast Syria.
Analyst and expert on terrorism and Syria – Kyle Orton – indicates that the cult could target Russia with attacks in the future.
He told Express.co.uk: “The chance of international terror attacks in Russia has definitely gone up, Russia has dealt with many fighters in the region having facilitated extremists’ move from Chechnya and Dagestan into Syria where they were then hit by airstrikes.
“But ISIS and al-Qaeda mention Russia more now as a target and something to be avenged, and there have been plots that Russia has intermittently said its wound up in in cities like St Petersburg.”
Ankara wants to create a ‘safe-zone’ or ‘buffer’ on the border with Syria to eliminate terror groups in the region, but its assault on Kurdish forces could open the door for jihadist prisoners to escape.
This would see ISIS numbers replenished, and the move by Turkey has therefore attracted widespread criticism, including from Trump who threatened to ‘wipe out’ the Turkish economy should the military action be too aggressive.
The condemnation from Moscow comes as a particularly damning indictment of Erdogan’s foreign policy given the growing relationship between Moscow and Ankara.
Erdogan has called on the international community to remain loyal to Turkey despite its actions.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey must ensure that progress in pushing back ISIS in Syria was not jeopardised.
Now that Putin has weighed in and chosen to criticise Erdogan, the Turkish leader is cutting a very isolated figure on the international stage.