(this could be tricky?)
Iran says it is closely monitoring Turkish military assault on Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin, calling for the swift cessation of the operation in the Arab country.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Sunday the Islamic Republic hoped the operation in Afrin would end immediately to prevent the escalation of crisis in Turkey-Syria border areas.
“The continuation of the crisis in Afrin may lead to restrengthening of Takfiri-terrorist groups in Syria’s northern areas and once again fan the flames of war and destruction in this country,” he added.
Turkey launched a new air and ground operation, called “Operation Olive Branch,” around the area of Afrin on Friday to oust the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday condemned Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, stating that the offensive was part of Ankara’s support for Takfiri terrorist groups operating inside the conflict-plagued Arab country.
“The brutal Turkish aggression on the Syrian town of Afrin cannot be separated from the Turkish regime’s policy from the first day of Syria’s crisis, which was essentially built on supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations, whatever their names,” Assad said in statements carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson further stressed the importance of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity, respecting its national sovereignty and preventing any measure, which would intensify humanitarian crisis in the country.
Iran expects all countries, particularly Turkey, to pursue the settlement of the Syrian crisis through political approaches and continue to play a constructive role and fulfill their responsibilities in this regard, Qassemi said.
He emphasized that the crisis in Syria is rooted in the illegal meddlesome approaches of extra-regional powers and the Israeli regime.
Qassemi said Syria’s humanitarian crisis would go on as long as the US and its allies continued their illegal presence in the Arab country contrary to the will of its legitimate government.
In a statement on Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern about the Turkish military operation in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled Afrin, calling on the sides to exercise restraint.
“Moscow is concerned at this news. We call on the opposing parties to show restraint,” it said.
Russian jets have been conducting air raids against Daesh and other terror outfits inside Syria at the Damascus government’s request since September 2015.
The airstrikes have helped Syrian forces advance against anti-Damascus militants, who have been wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.
Turkey, Iran and Russia are the guarantors of a countrywide ceasefire in Syria. The three have been mediating a peace process since January 2016 among Syria’s warring sides in Astana, Kazakhstan.
As part of the Astana format, four de-escalation zones have been established across Syria amid ongoing political efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
The zones have helped reduce fighting significantly, while giving Turkey a breath to beef up security along its southern borders.