02/05/2016, 09.19
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Moscow accuses Ankara of wanting to invade Syria. Riyadh prepares for ground operations against Isis

 The Russian Defense Ministry has accused the Turks of preparing military "operations" in Syria. Saudi Arabia ready to support the US coalition in case of ground operations against the Islamic state. Geneva peace talks suspended, while tensions rise over Syrian arena.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Russia has heightened tensions in its war of words with Turkey, accusing Ankara of "intensive preparations" for a military invasion of Syria. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia – which wants the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad – says it is ready to support any eventual US-led coalition ground operation against the Islamic State targets (IS).

On the ground the winds of war are growing stronger [tens of thousands of people fleeing from Aleppo from an encroaching government army offensive, ed], while in Geneva the "indirect" peace talks were "suspended" after only two days and without any tangible results.

The Russian Defense Ministry says there are "increasing signs" of "undercover preparation of the Turkish armed forces" aimed at "active operations on Syrian territory". There are "reasonable grounds," added Major-General Igor Konashenkov, to think that Turkey is preparing a ground invasion.

In recent days, Ankara stopped Russian fighter jets from carrying out inspection operations in an area where, according to the "Open Skies" agreement,  Moscow would have jurisdiction. The Russian Ministry speaks of "dangerous precedent" and considers the decision an attempt to cover "illegal military activities near Syrian territory".

The tension between Moscow and Ankara has steadily mounted since the shooting down of a Russian jet by the Turkish army along the border with Syria. Turkey had accused Russia of violation of airspace. In response, the Kremlin imposed sanctions against Turkey and strengthened the defenses of the fighter jets engaged in military operations along the border.

Turkish security expert, Nihat Ali Ozcan, says that Moscow's accusations are "simply unreal". Alexei Malashenko, an analyst of Middle Eastern affairs at the Carnegie Moscow Center, speaks of a "red line" that Turkey and Russia "are well aware that they cannot cross".

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia says it is ready to join land operations on Syrian territory to hit bases and positions of the Islamic State. Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assyrians stressed that "should the joint coalition" led by the US decide in favor of "field operations", Riyadh "will make its contribution." Since the end of 2014, the Arab country joined the coalition of 65 countries that has promoted a campaign - based on air raids - against the Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] and other jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.

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See also
Russia and the US sign deal to avoid incidents in Syrian airstrikes
US launches air strikes in Syria. Damascus was informed
Russia blocks UN condemnation of Assad for Aleppo massacre
Moscow, the US and UN in Geneva for talks on Syria
US-led coalition bombs Syrian army camp: 4 dead


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