Iran urges Turkey not to go ahead with attack on Syrian Kurds

Zarif urged Turkey to respect Syria’s integrity and sovereignty. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 October 2019

Iran urges Turkey not to go ahead with attack on Syrian Kurds

  • Iran, Turkey and Russia have been working together as part of the so-called Astana group on the Syrian civil war
  • Trump this week declared that US troops will step aside for an expected Turkish attack on the Syrian Kurds

TEHRAN, Iran: Iran has joined the chorus of criticism of President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon Syrian Kurdish fighters ahead of an expected Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria.
Iranian state TV reported on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to express Tehran’s opposition to the anticipated Turkish operation in Syria.
According to the report, Zarif urged Turkey to respect Syria’s integrity and sovereignty.
Iran, Turkey and Russia have been working together as part of the so-called Astana group on the Syrian civil war, talks that have run parallel to UN efforts to find a solution to the conflict.
Trump this week declared that US troops will step aside for an expected Turkish attack on the Syrian Kurds, longtime US allies against the Daesh group.


US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

Updated 24 October 2019

US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

  • Trump’s envoy demands explanation from Ankara of possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion
  • Envoy also expresses concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

JEDDAH: The US demanded an explanation from Ankara on Wednesday for what it described as “war crimes” committed during Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, said there were concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

“Many people fled because they’re very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces, as we are. We’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes,” the envoy told a House of Representatives hearing.

He said the US was also investigating the possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion, and wanted an explanation from Turkey’s government “at a high level.”

Jeffrey described Turkey’s invasion to drive Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters out of the border area as “a tragic disaster for northeast Syria.”

Meanwhile Russian military police began patrols on the Syrian border on Wednesday, following an agreement on Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Kremlin told Kurdish fighters to pull back or face being attacked again by Turkish forces.

“It’s quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don’t withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

In Washington, Trump said a US-negotiated cease-fire between Turkey and the Kurds would be permanent, and he lifted US sanctions on Ankara. “We’ve saved the lives of many, many Kurds,” he said.

Turkey considers the YPG terrorists because of their links to PKK insurgents in Turkey. It has demanded they retreat from the entire border region, creating a 30-km-deep “safe zone” where Turkey could also settle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil.

The new agreement allows Turkey to control that area. On Wednesday, Turkish-backed Syrian fighters in Ras Al-Ain unfurled their flag on top of the Kurdish fighters’ former HQ.