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If Turkey Caved on S-400 Deal, Regional Crisis Would Ensue – Ex-Turkish General

© Sputnik / Alexey Malgavko / Go to the mediabankThe S-400 Triumf anti-air missile system enters service in Sevastopol to protect Russian air borders
The S-400 Triumf anti-air missile system enters service in Sevastopol to protect Russian air borders - Sputnik International
Earlier, a senior US official told Turkish media that Washington would halt the sale of Patriot missiles to Ankara if the country proceeded with the purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems.

The United States' threat to cancel the sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey if it buys Russian air defence systems is really aimed at postponing a Turkish cross-border operation in neighbouring Syria, retired Turkish Brig. Gen. Fahri Erenel has said.

"The US is using the Turkish purchase of S-400s from Russia to achieve its own ulterior goals," Erenel said, speaking to Turkey's Yeni Safak newspaper.

An S-400 air defense missile system - Sputnik International
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"A similar threat was made during the important negotiations by the Turkish delegation in Washington on Manbij, Syria. And this is not a coincidence. Their plans include postponing the upcoming Turkish operation in Syria. The US's main problem is Turkey's determination to conduct an operation east of the Euphrates River and the further deployment of the country's military contingent in the region," the retired officer argued.

Regarding the US attempt to press Ankara not to purchase the Russian S-400s, Erenel warned that if Turkey succumbs to such pressure, "Turkish-Russian bilateral relations would reach an irrevocable point…It would cause staggering after-effects. It would stir up the civil war in Syria. It would directly affect a large-scale area from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea," he stressed.

Erenel said he was confident that Ankara "will not step back" on the S-400 issue, and would buy the system from Russia "at all costs. There is no turning back anymore," he concluded.

US Marine Corps tactical vehicles are escorted by a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) pickup truck along a road near the town of Tal Baydar in the countryside of Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province on December 21, 2018 - Sputnik International
US Increasing Military Presence in Syria Despite Withdrawal Plans - Reports
Turkey and Russia finalised a contract on the sale of four battalion sets of S-400s in December 2017, with the first of the systems expected to be delivered later this year. Designed to stop enemy aircraft, drones, as well as cruise and ballistic missiles, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defence system in Russia's arsenal, and is fielded by only a handful of countries. The US has put heavy pressure on Ankara over the deal, claiming the systems would pose a threat to F-35 stealth jets, and offering the country $3.5 billion-worth of Patriot PAC-3 air defence systems instead.

Last week, the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia controlling much of northern Syria which Ankara classifies as 'terrorists', voiced opposition to the creation of a Turkish-controlled security zone in northeast Syria. Turkey's plan envisions Ankara establishing control over the Manbij area, and a 30-35 km buffer zone in Syria along the Turkish border. Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that any agreement involving Syrian territory must include agreement from Damascus. The Syrian government has so far rejected the safe zone idea, accusing Ankara of turning a "blind eye to the international resolutions which have always reaffirmed respect for Syrian territorial integrity."

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