Iran warns Turkey against military action in Syria

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday warned Turkey against any military move in Syria, calling on Ankara to respect other countries’ territorial integrity.

The stance of the Islamic Republic on Syrian Kurds is “completely clear,” and that the only way to maintain security in Turkey is through the establishment of the Syrian central government’s military presence in the border areas, Iran’s private Tasnim news agency quoted Zarif as saying in an open session of the parliament in Tehran. 

Zarif’s statements follow those of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who in his strongest warning yet, on Saturday said that an operation targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria could take place “any day.’’

Turkey has repeatedly warned of an operation citing a lack of progress on a U.S.-Turkish deal to secure Syria’s troubled border with Turkey.

Turkey and the United States in August agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria. Ankara aims to clear the area south of its border of the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as an existential threat due to its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over 30 years.

 “The Islamic Republic certainly believes that regional security is possible through observing two principles: first, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity and security of all regional countries, and second, respect for the rights of all its inhabitants, including our Kurdish brothers and sisters…,” Tasnim quoted Zarif as saying.

Iran backs Syrian President Bashar Assad and along with Russia and Turkey is part of the so-called Astana Group. The group was launched in 2017 and aims to end the Syrian conflict.