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Saudis asked Russia to probe Aramco oilfield attack, Moscow will condemn Iran if it’s responsible – Putin

Saudis asked Russia to probe Aramco oilfield attack, Moscow will condemn Iran if it’s responsible – Putin

Saudis asked Russia to probe Aramco oilfield attack, Moscow will condemn Iran if it's responsible – Putin

Russia agreed to look into the September aerial attack on the Saudi Aramco oil facilities and will condemn whoever was behind it, but will not take sides in the feud between Riyadh and Tehran, President Vladimir Putin says.

Russia treasures its cordial ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia, and is equally sensitive to each side’s concerns, Putin told reporters from three Arabic-language broadcasters when asked for his take on the recent strike on Riyadh’s oil processing facilities in Abqaiq.

On the one hand, Moscow maintains “close contacts with the leadership of Saudi Arabia, including the Crown Prince [Mohammad bin Salman],” who asked the Russian leader if his country could help establish crucial facts about the incident.

Saudis asked Russia to probe Aramco oilfield attack, Moscow will condemn Iran if it's responsible – Putin

“I said yes, we are ready to share anything that might be necessary, everything we have for a thorough investigation,” Putin revealed.

When asked directly whether Russia will go as far as condemning Iran if it’s found responsible, he said there won’t be any exceptions.

Regardless of who stood behind the incident, we condemn any such actions. That is exactly what I said before, and I really meant it.

But assigning blame before finding out the facts is “counterproductive,” the president said, explicitly referring to Riyadh and Washington pointing finger at Tehran.

And while Russia is ready to assist the Saudi fact-finding effort, such contribution – as well as friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – will never come at the expense of the long-standing ties with neighboring Iran, “a big country” that “has existed on its territory for thousands of years [and] has its own interests.”

Russia will never be friends with one country against another. We build bilateral relations that rely on positive trends generated by our contacts; we do not build alliances against anyone.

Likewise, Moscow will not take on the “unrewarding” role of a mediator in the Riyadh-Tehran feud, Putin said, adding that the he believes the two nations are capable of solving their disputes without a middleman.

Kurds Welcome Syrian Troops Into Kobani and Manbij, As Last Resort Against Turkish Advance

Syrian government forces set to enter Kobani and Manbij in SDF deal

The deal would see the SAA and pro-regime militias enter the towns to prevent a Turkish incursion

Syrian government forces were poised to enter the northeastern Syrian cities of Kobani and Manbij on Sunday, October 13 after a deal with the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight against Turkey-backed rebels.

Kobani official General Ismet Sheikh Hasan said that Russian and Syrian government troops could enter Kobani and Manbij by Sunday night to help secure the cities from a Turkish incursion.

“We did everything we could,” he said. “We have called upon the West [and] the Arab Union but no one is coming to help, so we have no one other than ourselves to defend [Kobani]. Kurdish youth should come and defend their homes, and people should not abandon their homes – this is our land. It looks like this is the fate of the Kurds, to go through this each time.”

Neither the SDF or Russia have confirmed such an agreement exists.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported that SAA units were moving north to “confront” Turkish forces.

Earlier on Sunday, Turkey said its forces had secured the M4 highway, about 30 km into Syrian territory and a major supply line for the area.

A deal between the SDF, regime and Russia could see the Syrian Arab Army and pro-government militias enter Manbij and Kobani as early as Sunday in a bid to stop the progress of Syrian rebels in the north. Other reports have put the timeline within 48 hours, meaning Turkey-backed forces would have an additional two days to secure their positions, potentially cutting off Manbij from SDF strongholds in the east.

Syria mapEarlier Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the Pentagon had received information that the SDF, which it had backed for years in the war against Islamic State, was preparing to strike a deal with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the Russians.

Turkey invaded northeast Syria on October 9 after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would pull back American troops along the Syria-Turkey border where they were protecting the SDF from a Turkish incursion. On Sunday, Esper said the remaining 1,000 U.S. troops would withdraw from northeastern Syria.

In January, senior SDF official and former YPG spokesperson Redur Xelil said a deal with the regime was inevitable “because our areas are part of Syria.”

Ankara considers the SDF and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) wing to be an arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and Erdogan has for months been threatening to attack northeast Syria.

The Syrian regime and its Russian ally consider all Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, even those not aligned with jihadist groups, to be terrorists.

Fighters backed by Turkey and pro-regime forces had flanked Manbij on Monday before Turkey’s incursion began.

Manbij Military Council spokesperson Shervan Derwish told The Defense Post that his side had received information that Syrian pro-government forces, supported by Russian troops, had begun movements in area, while the Turkey-organized Syrian National Army, a conglomerate of Syrian Arab rebel groups, began making preparations to move towards the town, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The SDF captured Manbij from ISIS on August 12, 2016 after a 75-day battle, later named “Operation Martyr and Commander Faysal Abu Layla” after the SDF commander.

Kobani, which lies to the east of the Euphrates river, is where Kurds in 2015 halted a bloody six-month Islamic State onslaught with the help of U.S. airstrikes.