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Putin, Pashinian Discuss Syria Crisis


Armenia -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Yerevan, October 1, 2019.

In a weekend phone call, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin the safety of ethnic Armenians remaining in Syria in light of Turkish military operations conducted there.

The two men spoke by phone one day after attending a summit in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat of leaders of former Soviet states. The Kremlin said they followed up on their conversations on the sidelines of the summit but did not give any details.

A slightly longer readout of the phone call released by the Armenian government said Pashinian and Putin spoke about the situation in northern Syria and other “regional issues.”

“Yesterday I made a request to [Putin at Ashgabat] which is important in terms of the security of the Armenian community in Syria,” Pashinian wrote on Facebook later on Saturday. “I am grateful to the Russian president for his rapid response.” He did not elaborate.

The Armenian government has condemned Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syrian regions mostly controlled by Kurdish militia.It has said it is particularly concerned about the security of ethnic and religious minorities living there.

Those include a few thousand ethnic Armenians mostly based in the border town of Qamishli. The secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen Grigorian, said on Friday that Yerevan is ready to help them take refuge in their historical homeland.

Armenia has already taken in more than 20,000 Syrian Armenian refugees since the outbreak of the bloody conflict in Syria. Most of them used to live in the northern city of Aleppo.

In February, more than 80 Armenian demining experts, army medics and other non-combat military personnel were deployed in and around Aleppo. Pashinian made clear last week that the Armenian military will continue the “humanitarian mission” closely coordinated with Russia.

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