Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that all external actors, without any exception, especially those present inside Syria must start a dialogue with the Syrian government and respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “As for the situation in Afrin and what could be done to resolve it. We have said many times that the resolution of all problems which now remain and even escalate in Syria can be done exclusively by respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic/ “It is necessary that all external players, without any exception, especially those who have presence in Syria, realize the need for starting dialogue with the Syrian government within the framework of the principles of the Syrian Arab Republic’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has been repeatedly confirmed by the UN Security Council,” Lavrov said.
The comments by the Russian top diplomat came after Turkey warned that pro-Damascus forces would face “serious consequences” for entering Syria’s Afrin region with the aim of assisting Kurdish militias repel a Turkish offensive. Their arrival raises the threat of wider escalation on Syria’s northern battlefront, where the Syrian army, allied Iranian-backed militias, Kurdish militants, Islamist-rebels, Turkish troops, and Russian and American forces are all contending.