The Latest: Russia says US foments Syria Kurdish separatism

The Latest on the developments in Syria and Turkey's offensive on the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Russia is accusing the United States of fomenting separatism in the Kurdish enclave in Syria that has come under attack by Turkey over the weekend.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that the fact that the United States has been "discouraging the Kurds from dialogue" with the Syrian government and "fomenting separatist sentiment" among them shows "lack of understanding of the situation or a deliberate provocation."

Lavrov said Moscow views the Kurds as an important party of talks on the future of a post-war Syria and that their voice should be heard. He, however, called on all parties in the ongoing conflict to Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Turkey on Saturday launched an offensive aimed at ousting the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia from the enclave of Afrin, heightening tensions in the Syrian conflict and threatening to further strain ties between NATO allies Turkey and the U.S.


10:30 a.m.

Syria's Kurdish militia says it has repelled Turkish troops and their allies from villages they seized during the Turkey-backed offensive against the enclave.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday that the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia has waged a ferocious counteroffensive, repelling Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters from two villages they briefly captured

The Observatory says Turkey-backed troops opened two new fronts on the third day of the offensive, attempting once again to enter Afrin in northwestern Syria.

The Kurdish militia, known as People's Defense Units or YPG, says it's clashing with the Turkish troops northwest of Afrin.

Turkey considers the YPG a terror organization because of its affiliation to its own Kurdish insurgency. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to expand the operation.