Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Friday that ISIS militants held in northeast Syria could escape as a result of a Turkish military operation there, the Interfax news agency reported.
The Turkish offensive against US-allied Kurdish forces in the northeast of Syria opens one of the biggest new fronts in years in an eight-year-old civil war that has drawn in global powers.
Russia emerged a leading power broker in Syria after it launched a military intervention there in 2015, turning the tide of the war in favor of its ally in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad.
“There are zones located in the north of Syria where [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,” Putin was quoted as saying.
“I’m not sure if the Turkish army can rapidly get this under control,” Putin said, speaking during a visit to Turkmenistan.
Turkey pounded Kurdish militia in northeast Syria for a second day on Thursday, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee and killing at least dozens of people in a cross-border assault on US allies that has turned the Washington establishment against President Donald Trump.
The offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by Kurdish YPG militia, which began days after Trump pulled US troops out of the way and following a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, opens one of the biggest new fronts in years in an eight-year-old civil war that has drawn in global powers.