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Iran helping Turkey-Syria rapprochement, restoration of diplomatic ties: Diplomat

Ali Asghar Khaji, a senior aide to the Iranian foreign minister (file photo)

A senior Iranian diplomat says the Islamic Republic is making efforts for potential rapprochement between Syria and Turkey, and restoration of their diplomatic relations which were severed nearly 12 years ago.

Ali Asghar Khaji, a senior aide to the Iranian foreign minister, made the remarks in a Wednesday meeting with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz in the Kazakh capital city of Astana on the sidelines of the 21st international summit on Syria under the Astana format.

The Iranian diplomat said Tehran and Ankara enjoy good and friendly relations, and play a very significant role in the establishment of security across the region.

“Respect for the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria is among common interests of both Iran and Turkey,” Khaji stated.

He also criticized US support for Israel’s war crime and genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, saying, “Americans are the main party responsible for the massacre of residents of Gaza and persistence of the current situation.”

Turkey severed its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant and deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants, including those allegedly supported by Ankara.

The process of normalizing ties between Ankara and Damascus kicked off on December 28, 2022, when the Russian, Syrian and Turkish defense ministers met in Moscow, in what was the highest-level meeting between the two sides since the outbreak of the Syria conflict.

Since 2016, Turkey has conducted three major ground operations against US-backed militants based in northern Syria.

The Turkish government accuses the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militants of bearing ties with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.

Syria considers the Turkish presence on its soil to be illegal, saying it reserves the right to defend its sovereignty against the occupying forces.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has tied rapprochement with Turkey to Ankara’s ending occupation of the northern parts of the Arab country and its support for militant groups wreaking havoc and fighting against the Damascus government.

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