MOSCOW - Russian leader Vladimir Putin appears to have endorsed Turkey's military incursion into northeast Syria, but is drawing some red lines of his own, including that the offensive doesn't lead to permanent occupation by the Turks of Syrian territory, say analysts.
In return for the Kremlin's acceptance of the Turkish offensive, which Ankara says is aimed at clearing a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia allied with secessionist Turkish Kurds from a large swath of land near the border, there's also the expectation that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will acquiesce to Moscow's plans for Syria's future, one that will see President Bashar al-Assad, Russia's ally, reassert control across the whole of Syria.
The Russian and Turkish leaders talked by phone earlier this week as a prelude to Turkish warplanes launching waves of airstrikes on Kurdish positions on the Syrian border towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn as well as on Qamishli, the Kurds' de facto capital in northeast Syria. A ground assault also is underway.
The Turkish offensive went ahead after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would order American troops in the area to step aside, effectively green-lighting the assault, a decision that has prompted a bipartisan rebuke Wednesday from U.S. lawmakers, angry at what they see as an abandonment of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, America's chief local ally in its war against the the Islamic State group.
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