Zarif, Cavusoglu discuss northern Syria

October 19, 2019 - 18:44

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, held a phone conversation on Thursday on the latest developments in northern Syria.

According to IRNA, Zarif also held separate phone conversations with foreign ministers of Iraq, Russia and Syria on Wednesday to discuss the situation in northern Syria.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Zarif said it is “imperative” to end Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria.

“The imperative now is to end the incursion into #Syria & address all concerns through #ADANA,” he said.

Zarif also suggested that “it is essential that the core principles of JUS IN BELLO are fully observed: distinction between civilians and combatant, & prohibition on inflicting unnecessary suffering.” 

(International humanitarian law, or jus in bello, is the law that governs the way in which warfare is conducted.)

In another tweet on October 12, Zarif said, “The Adana Agreement between Turkey and Syria—still valid—can be the better path to achieve security. #Iran can help bring together the Syrian Kurds, the Syrian Govt, and Turkey so that the Syrian Army together with Turkey can guard the border.”

Turkey launched military operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in northeast Syria on October 9.

In an interview with Turkey’s TRT World aired on October 10, Zarif said that the Syrian Army together with Turkey can guard the border.

“That’s a better way to achieve security,” he suggested.

“We do not believe that security can be achieved by invading Syria, by incursion into Syria. We have better options. We have offered better options to our Turkish friends like the Adana agreement. There is an Adana agreement between Turkey and Syria which is still valid. We can help bring together the Syrian Kurds, the Syrian government and Turkey so that the Syrian Army together with Turkey can guard the border with Turkey, together with Turkey,” Zarif explained.

Iranian MPs issued a statement on Monday condemning Turkey’s military attack on northeastern Syria.

“We, the representatives of Iran’s parliament, support the oppressed Syrian Kurds and expect the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which supports the oppressed, to announce its support for the oppressed Syrian Kurds in various ways,” read the statement.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on October 10 urging Turkey to immediately stop offensive and withdraw its forces from the region.

During a press conference on October 14, President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran does not approve of Turkey’s military attack.

“Turkey has concerns about north of Syria and we accept them. We accept a country’s security concerns. Turkey is our friend. However, we do not accept the method it has chosen. This is not a good method. There exists better methods,” Rouhani stated.

Despite a five-day ceasefire brokered on Thursday, clashes continued on the border between Turkey and Syria on Friday, according to eyewitnesses and Kurdish fighters, 

Shelling and artillery fire was reported Friday in the border town of Ras al-Ain, one of the targets of Turkey's week-old offensive against Kurdish fighters.

The SDF told CNN that shelling by the Turkish military and the Syrian rebel proxies supporting them has hit a number of civilian areas in Ras al-Ain, including a hospital. The SDF says five fighters were killed in the attack.

"SDF are committed to the ceasefire, but from last night until this morning we are seeing shelling on Ras al-Ain by the Turkish military and its mercenaries on SDF and civilian Kurdish targets, and in particular on the Ras al-Ain hospital in the city this morning," SDF Press Commander Merivan Qamishlo said.

"The situation inside the Ras al-Ain Hospital is catastrophic. Three ambulance vehicles belonging to the Kurdish Red Crescent were prevented from entering and were shot at. The city is completely surrounded by air and ground from the Turkish military," he added.