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Why is Russia Helping Turkey in Afrin?

* By Leonid Issaev - On January 20, Turkey launched an air and ground offensive, which it called "Olive Branch", against the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin in northern Syria. As the offensive progressed rapidly, it became obvious that such an ambitious operation could not have been possible without Russia's explicit approval. First of all, the operation required the Turkish Air Force to enter Syria's airspace - something Ankara could not have done without consulting Russia. Furthermore, before rechannelling Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces to Afrin, Ankara needed assurances from Russia that Bashar al-Assad would not take advantage of the situation and attempt to seize Turkish-controlled positions in the province of Idlib.

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