Iran’s advisory urges Turkey to avoid unwise acts in Idlib 

March 1, 2020 - 19:33

TEHRAN - Iran’s Advisory Center (IAC) in Syria, in a statement issued on Sunday, condemned the Turkish troops’ artillery attacks on the center’s positions in northwestern Syria, urging Ankara to handle current developments in Idlib province logically and based on the Syrian people’s interests.

The IAC said that the Turkish army has continued targeting the center’s positions, calling on Ankara to behave wisely. 

The IAC, in its 10-paragraph statement, explains recent developments in Idlib province, including the Turkish troops’ biased support for the terrorist groups, Turkish forces’ attacks on the IAC positions. It added the Iranian forces are capable to conduct retaliatory attacks on the Turkish troops. 

The statement read that the IAC has been cooperating with the Syrian forces to liberate the M5 highway (Damascus-Aleppo highway) based on Damascus’ request.

It added that the IAC has assisted the Syrian Army to defend the M5 highway against the terrorist groups’ attacks after the highway was liberated.

The Turkish-backed Turkestani Islamic Party and Jabhat al-Nusra jihadist groups conducted their attacks with airstrike support from Ankara, according to the statement. 

“Since the IAC presence in Syria, the Turkish centers have been within our forces’ fire range but based on the Astana agreement, none of the units of the resistance front attacked the Ankara forces’ positions. We have thus far refrained from targeting any Turkish center in the region,” the statement added. 

“In the last four days the IAC forces have helped the Syrian soldiers ward off the militants’ attacks,” it said, adding, “But, the Turkish troops have conducted aerial and missile attacks on our positions.”

“We sent a message to the Turkish troops that we do not want to engage in any clash with them based on the advice of our commanders,” the IAC said, adding that “we have announced to the Turkish commander not to put the life of their soldiers in danger.” 

“Their [Turkish people’s] sons are targets to our fighters on the ground,” the statement warned, calling on the Turkish public to push its government to think “wisely” and end its presence in Turkey. 
  
“We stay with the Damascus forces and government to free the remaining militant-held part of the country. We underline our support for Syria’s territorial integrity,” the statement added. 

At least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria’s Idlib province on Friday after an airstrike blamed on Damascus, prompting a reaction from Washington and a UN warning on the rapidly-rising risk of escalation.

Since Thursday, at least 74 soldiers of the Syrian army and popular forces supporting Damascus have been killed by the Turkish airstrikes, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Saturday.

In a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday afternoon, President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran was ready to host a trilateral summit between Iran, Turkey, and Russia as the battle in Idlib was raging.

“Trilateral cooperation at different levels is of special importance and as has been announced earlier Iran is quite ready to host the next round of the trilateral summit,” Rouhani said, according to the presidential media office.

Rouhani noted that the lives of the innocent people in Idlib province should be protected and at the same time the terrorists in the region must be purged.

“In view of the gathering of dangerous terrorists and the need to protect the lives of innocent people living in the region, the issue of Idlib is very complicated.  On one hand, the lives of innocent people should be protected, and on the other hand, terrorists should be uprooted,” Rouhani said in his phone talks with Erdogan.

Rouhani went on to say that the Astana process engineered by Iran, Russia, and Turkey for resolving the Syrian conflict must not be undermined.

The Iranian president went on to say that that the intensification of tension in the region will not benefit anyone, insisting on Tehran’s long-held policy that Syrian conflict must be resolved through dialogue.

“Surely, the intensification of tension in the region will benefit neither side, and we must resolve the issues through dialogue and do not allow the Astana process to be weakened.”

Also on Thursday, Russian and Syrian media outlets reported that Turkish military forces have been firing shoulder-fired missiles towards Syrian and Russian military aircraft providing air cover for Syria's anti-terrorist operations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the time that President Putin and Erdogan spoke by phone Friday to discuss the implementation of de-escalation agreements in Idlib.

"The conversation was detailed and devoted to the necessity to do everything," Lavrov told reporters at a news conference in Moscow. "There is always room for dialogue."

MJ/PA

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