MOSCOW: Russia on Saturday voiced concern and urged restraint over a new Turkish operation to oust Kurdish militia from a northern Syrian enclave, with Moscow responding by withdrawing its troops from the zone in question.
"Moscow is concerned at this news. We call on the opposing parties to show restraint," the foreign ministry said in a statement after the launch of an operation which has also drawn US warnings.
The Russian defence ministry said its troops were withdrawing from the area "to prevent potential provocation and exclude the threat to the life and wellbeing of Russian military."
Ankara launched a new air and ground operation around the area of Afrin in northern Syria to oust People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which Turkey deems to be a terror organisation.
Moscow said it was "attentively monitoring the development of the situation".
"Russia remains faithful to its position concerning resolutions(to the conflict) in Syria based on territorial integrity and respect for the country's sovereignty," the defence ministry statement said.
Following a partial December withdrawal of its troops from Syria, where Russia had intervened on behalf of the regime in September 2015, "the main objective of Russian forces remaining in the country is to ensure respect of the truce in de-escalation zones," the ministry said.