Tehran advises Ankara to reconsider Syria operation

October 9, 2019

TEHRAN – Presidential chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi has advised Turkey to reconsider its decision to carry out an operation inside Syria, saying such moves will only harm the region.

“We understand Turkey’s concerns regarding its borders with Syria and we have talked about this issue with them, but according to our understanding of the region and its issues, military moves toward Syria will be detrimental to the region and will not create security,” Vaezi told reporters on the sidelines of Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

The comments come against the backdrop of Ankara’s decision to go forward with a planned offensive targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization and an extension of the PKK, which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says it is necessary to purge the YPG from the region so that Turkey can create a safe zone where it will relocate millions of refugees, according to Press TV.

Ankara’s plan for an extensive ground and air operation in northeastern Syria has also concerned the United Nations, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for “maximum restraint” and the protection of civilians.

“The secretary-general is following with great concern recent statements regarding northeastern Syria, in particular, the risk to civilians from any potential military actions,” Stephane Dujarric, the UN chief's spokesperson, said in a statement on Tuesday. “He calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint.”

Iran and Russia have warned that the offensive could further escalate tensions in Syria. The Damascus government has also voiced its opposition to the incursion.

Tehran says welcomes U.S. withdrawal from Syria 

In his Wednesday remarks, Vaezi said regional issues should be resolved through dialogue.

He also said the presence of other foreign forces including the U.S. forces, who are in Syria without Damascus’s permission, has created insecurity in the region.

Vaezi welcomed a U.S. decision to withdraw its forces from Syria, saying Tehran hopes that the United States withdraw its forces from Syria and other countries.

“Different countries can negotiate with each other, reach agreements and solve their problems by themselves,” he added.

The White House announced in a statement on Sunday that the U.S. would be withdrawing its forces from northern Syria, clearing the path for Turkey’s operation against the Kurdish militants, who had long enjoyed Washington’s support.

“The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation,” said the statement, adding that the American troops “will no longer be in the immediate area,” without clarifying whether they will completely leave Syria or will be redeployed within the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump later said in a tweet that it was too costly to keep supporting the Kurdish militants in the region.

MH/PA

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