News ID: 208533
Published: 0639 GMT January 21, 2018

Iran: Turkey operation must not harm Syria's sovereignty

Iran: Turkey operation must not harm Syria's sovereignty

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri says Turkish military operations in Syria's northwestern region of Afrin must not harm the Arab country's territorial integrity, independence and national sovereignty.

In a telephone conversation with Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar on Sunday, Baqeri said Turkey must give assurances that it has no territorial intentions.

Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch," a new air and ground operation 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 Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

The senior Iranian commander emphasized that such moves should not pave the way for the enemies of the Syrian nation and the Muslim world, particularly the United States and its allies, to exploit the situation to achieve their own goals.

"These military measures should not harm tripartite political negotiations and the Astana [peace] talks which have so far managed to produce success," Baqeri said.

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.

The Turkish chief of general staff, for his part, said his country's army carried out the military assault in Afrin in line with its legitimate right of defense.  

Akar added that Turkey respects Syria's territorial integrity and will remain committed to agreements reached with Iran and Russia.

Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Tehran is closely monitoring Turkish military assault on Syria's Afrin, calling for the swift cessation of the operation in the Arab country 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.

The Turkish General Staff said in a statement that Turkish warplanes and artillery units had hit 153 positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants so far.

“Operation Olive Branch continues as planned and the ground offensive has begun,” the military stated on the second day of the military operation.

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