Iran's foreign minister in Syria in effort to ward off another Turkish incursion

Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tehran opposes any new military operation inside Syria by Turkey

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian visits the Syrian capital Damascus on Saturday. AP
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Iran opposes any military operation by Turkey inside Syria, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said during a visit to Damascus on Saturday.

Mr Amirabdollahian's trip follows a visit to Turkey, where he said Iran understood Ankara's concerns about Kurdish militias operating along its border with Syria.

The foreign minister said before leaving for Damascus that his visit “was aimed at establishing peace and security in the region between Syria and Turkey”, according to Iran's official news agency Irna.

“After my visit to Turkey … it is necessary to have consultations with the Syrian authorities,” he said.

Iran is a major ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and an important trading partner for Turkey.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he was planning a cross-border incursion against US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters to create a 30-kilometre wide buffer zone inside Syria. A similar operation in 2019 failed to achieve its objective.

“We understand the concerns of our neighbour Turkey but we oppose any military measure in Syria,” Mr Amirabdollahian said. He said Iran was trying to solve the “misunderstanding between Turkey and Syria through dialogue”.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militias, a key component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces that fought and defeated ISIS in northern Syria, to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party that waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

Mr Amirabdollahian was received at the airport by his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad and later held talks with Mr Al Assad and senior Syrian officials, Irna said.

He also condemned an Israeli air strike in Syria's coastal province of Tartus hours before his arrival, saying Israel was trying to destabilise Syria with such attacks and show that the country lacked security.

The Israeli attack was the first since a June 10 air strike on the international airport in Damascus that caused significant damage to infrastructure and rendered the main runway unusable. The airport was closed for two weeks and flights resumed on June 23.

Israel has staged hundreds of strikes in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

Israel said it attacks bases of Iran-allied militias, such as the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, that supported Mr Al Assad’s forces after a civil war broke out in 2011.

Israel accuses Iran, which is sworn to its destruction, of trying to establish a foothold along its border with Syria.

Updated: July 03, 2022, 7:33 AM