Erdogan criticizes Russia, says Turkey to decide future of Syria's Afrin

Erdogan criticizes Russia, says Turkey to decide future of Syria's Afrin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the importance of halting civilian deaths in Syria's eastern Ghouta region in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, a Turkish presidential source said. "First, let's talk about handing over areas controlled by other countries in Syria to Syria", Erdogan told reporters, dismissing comments from Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov on Monday said the easiest way to normalise the situation in Afrin was to put the area back under the control of Syrian government, the Interfax news agency reported.

Turkey on Saturday criticised the United States for sending what it said were mixed messages on Syria, saying Washington was sowing confusion by equivocating about its future role in the country.

Responding to Lavrov's comments, the Turkish President said his government would hand over Afrin to its residents "when the time comes".

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Turkey, which has been working with allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a political resolution to the crisis in Syria, called for worldwide action against the attacks in Douma.

Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch" on January 20 to clear YPG, PKK and ISIL from Afrin and on March 18, the military and the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) took the control of the Afrin town center.

Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation pose before a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, April 4, 2018.

This is while United States officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.

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