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Iran calls on Turkey to stop its military operation in Afrin, Syria

February 6, 2018 at 4:30 am

Turkish military tanks are prepared for deployment into Syria as part of the ‘Operation Olive Branch’ on 20 January 2018 [Fatih Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey must stop its military offensive in Syria, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, said yesterday, warning that the operation in the northern Afrin region breached Syrian sovereignty and would increase tension in the war-damaged country.

“Turkey should stop its operation and respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Qassemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

“Turkey’s actions can bring back insecurity, instability and terrorism to Syria,” he added.

The Iranian official noted that any solution to the Syrian crisis should be discussed in the talks which are due to take place in the Kazakh capital, Astana and are sponsored by Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

Iran, Qassemi pointed out, was in continuous talks with both Turkey and Russia about the latest developments in Syria.

Read: Turkish offensive on Afrin cuts fuel supply to 2 million in Idlib

Russia and Iran back Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey supports Assad’s opponents.

Since 20 January, the Turkish army and the opponent Free Syrian Army, have been carrying out a military offensive, named “Ghosn Al-Zaytoun,” against the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh in Syria’s northern city of Afrin.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 68 civilians have been killed, including 21 children, since the launch of the Ghosn AL-Zaytoun operation last month.

Ankara considers YPG, which controls Afrin, as a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has fought an insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984.

Last week, the Syrian government described the Turkish offensive in Afrin as an “illegal aggression” and said that it would deal with it accordingly.