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Iran voices concern about potential Turkish invasion of Syria as Erdogan renews case for operation

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad hold a joint press conference in Tehran, on July 20, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian expresses concern regarding a fresh potential Turkish invasion of northern Syria, which Ankara might undertake under the pretext of fighting “terrorists.”

The top diplomat made the remarks during a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Faisal al-Mekdad in Tehran on Wednesday.

Amir-Abdollahian said a trilateral summit held among Iran, Russia, and Turkey in Tehran on Tuesday tried to discourage the prospect of war and militarism so “issues can be resolved through the political course.”

“We hope that these pieces of advice that were emphasized by the heads of state attending the summit are heeded by the authorities of the friendly and brotherly country Turkey” so Damascus and Ankara would be able to cross this stage in the absence of any confrontation, he added.

Turkey has carried out several incursions against neighboring Syria’s northern parts since 2016 to target the Kurdish militants known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Ankara associates the YPG with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting a separatist war against Turkey for decades.

So far, Turkey has deployed thousands of troops in the areas, in what Damascus has decried as an outright violation of its sovereignty.

As he met his Russian and Iranian counterparts at the Tehran trilateral summit as part of the Astana peace process, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed warnings that Ankara could launch a new military operation in northern Syria.

Erdogan said Turkey wants more help from Russia and Iran, but stressed Ankara can fight against “terrorist” organizations without needing any support.

The Iranian foreign minister said in his joint presser that his country lays emphasis on the importance of preservation of Syria’s territorial sovereignty and integrity.

“The issue of fighting terrorism, building Syria’s future based on the will all of the country’s people, and protection of the Syrian nation’s rights in the absence of all foreign interference” are among the top priorities that are being pursued by the Islamic Republic, the Iranian official said.

US occupation of Syria

Turning to the issue of the United States’ ongoing invasion of Syria, Amir-Abdollahian said the eastern side of the Euphrates River, where the American occupation forces have set up a presence, was among the Arab country’s “most fecund areas.”

The Eastern Euphrates hosts some of Syria’s main sources of oil and energy, he said, adding, “Unfortunately, we have been witnessing the plunder of Syria’s natural resources in the areas that are occupied by the United States.”

“We believe that the US’s military forces should leave Syria’s soil immediately and unconditionally,” he said, asserting that the Syrian people and armed forces were “capable and competent” enough to protect their security and territorial integrity.

The US and its allies invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. Washington began stealing and smuggling the Syrian crude from the oil-rich eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr and elsewhere under former American President Donald Trump.

Amir-Abdollahian also addressed the issue of the Israeli regime’s repeated rounds of aggression against Syria, which Damascus considers to be aimed at supporting terrorists.

“Today, the Zionist regime is in its worst situation,” he said, considering the regime’s sporadic attacks against Syria to be aimed at “covering up its multi-layered [areas of] weakness and the internal crises that the Zionist regime is facing.”

The region, he said, would not stay “indifferent” towards such disruptive efforts on the part of the Israeli regime. “None of the Israeli regime’s actions has remained unanswered,” he added.

For his part, the Syrian official expressed gratitude toward Iran for hosting the trilateral summit. “[Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad has tasked me with sending his best regards to Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] and [Iranian President] Mr. Raeisi,” he said.

The official appreciated the summit’s final statement, through which the three states insisted that there were no military solutions to the Syrian conflict and underlined their resolve to continue their cooperation in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

‘Syria-Turkey conflict favors US, Israel’

Mekdad, meanwhile, said “nothing can threaten Syria’s independence and sovereignty,” adding that breaching the Arab country’s borders “carries no benefits for either Turkey or others.”

Damascus, he said, was against the “Turkification” policy of Ankara and its support for anti-Syria terrorists.

“This will lead to conflict between the Syrian and Turkish governments and will [adversely] affect the friendly and brotherly countries’ [relations],” he said. “This is exactly what America and Israel want.”

The top Syrian diplomat, however, said, “We are prepared to defend our nation’s freedom and will not back down from this.”

Mekdad also pointed to the plunder of Syria’s resources by the US, saying Washington is exploiting those resources while it has brought the Syrian people under draconian sanctions.

“What right does the US have to loot our wealth … [while] the Syrian people are suffering under sanctions,” he said.

The US, though, would not be capable of realizing its goal of “disintegrating Syria,” the Syrian official said. “Every bit [of soil] that rests on Syria’s northwestern and northeastern areas would [eventually] return to the country.”

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