Iran says ready to assist Turkey, Syria to resolve conflicts

February 7, 2020 - 12:18

TEHRAN - Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday that his country, which is one of the guarantors of the Astana group, is ready to do its best to settle the conflicts between Turkey and Syria in Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

"Iran is ready to do its best to settle differences between Damascus and Ankara over developments in Idlib province," Majid Takht-Ravanchi said as he pointed to Iran’s unwavering determination in campaign against terrorism. 
 
"Situation in the region is worrisome, so, we must try to prevent the crisis from being uncontrollable," he said in a meeting at the United Nations Security Council. 

Highlighting the Sochi agreement over the situation in Idlib, Takht-Ravanchi said, "The Astana meeting underlined the importance of the Sochi agreement." 

On Thursday, Damascus denounced the near-simultaneous deployment of Turkish military forces to Syria’s Idlib and the recent Israeli air aggression against the Arab country, saying they prove that Ankara works hand in glove with the Tel Aviv regime.

“Turkish forces, in a close collaboration and exposed concurrence and under the cover of the Israeli aggression, infringed upon Syrian borders and were deployed in areas stretching between the towns of Binnish, Ma'arrat Misrin and Taftanaz. Such a step affirms the common interests of Turkish and Israeli regimes regarding the protection of terrorists, particularly Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front), and to impede the advancement of the Syrian army in Idlib and Aleppo, and to prevent the complete defeat of their proxies in Syria,” an unnamed source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA.  

The ministry official added that both the Turkish military deployment and the Israeli airstrikes in the early hours of Thursday are a blatant violation of the Syrian sovereignty and international law, and clearly prove to the entire world the parties that support, sponsor and protect terrorism in Syria. 

Such incidents, the source added, took the mask off the face of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan who used to express hostility towards Israel.

“The Syrian Arab Republic reiterates that acts of aggression, either by the Turkish regime or Israel or both of them, will not prevent the Syrian army from continuing its campaign against terrorism until the entire Syrian territories are liberated and completely purged from the presence of terror groups,” the source highlighted.

SANA, citing a statement released by the Syrian General Command of the Army and Armed Forces, reported that a Turkish military convoy, including a number of armored vehicles, had passed from the Oglinar area into Syria and deployed along the line linking the towns of Binnish, Ma'arrat Misrin and Taftanaz early on Thursday.

The development took place shortly after Syrian air defense forces intercepted several missiles launched from the occupied Golan Heights and southern Lebanon targeting the al-Kiswa area, Marj al-Sultan, Baghdad Bridge and South of Izra' around the capital, Damascus.

Meanwhile, Syrian forces have entered the city of Saraqeb in Idlib province.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a report corroborated by witnesses that Syrian troops marched through the city, situated 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) east of Idlib city on Thursday following battles with foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.

According to voanews.com, Syrian government forces continue to whittle away at Turkish-supported rebel forces inside Idlib enclave, gaining more ground along the strategic Damascus-to-Aleppo highway. It said the Syrian army appears poised to capture another strategic town.

Syrian state TV reported Thursday that military advances, beginning with the recent capture of Maarat Naaman and 22 smaller towns, have "sparked a collapse in morale" among Turkish-supported rebel forces in Idlib province.

Turkish military forces, which have 12 observation posts ringing the Idlib enclave, attempted to reinforce rebel positions in a number of strategic locations, including Taftenaz Airport, as well as the towns of Binesh and Maarat Misreen. Syrian forces are now outside the strategic town of Saraqeb and appear poised to take it.

Erdogan said the Syrian government advance had caused an unacceptable "flood of a million [Syrian] refugees" toward Turkish territory in recent days. He demanded that government forces withdraw from areas close to Turkish army observation posts.

He said two of Turkey's observation posts — established in coordination with Russia in the Sochi accord — are now behind Syrian government lines. He is demanding that Damascus withdraw from these positions by the end of February or else Turkey, he warns, will take military action to force it to do so.

By the Sochi accord, he was referring to an agreement reached in the Russian resort aimed at demilitarizing Idlib, the last-remaining rebel enclave.

Turkey shelled Syrian government positions during the past several days to avenge the deaths of more than a half dozen of its soldiers in a Syrian government attack this week. Erdogan said Ankara would retaliate "without warning."

Arab media reported that a Russian military delegation was visiting the Turkish capital, Ankara, Thursday to discuss the recent escalation of violence in Idlib province, in which it acknowledged that both Turkish and Russian military forces have been killed. The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement denouncing what it said were "over a thousand rebel attacks on government forces in the past month."

Syrian government media showed video of Turkey moving trucks and other military equipment into Idlib province to reinforce its presence there.

MJ/PA

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