Iran hits back at Syria truce criticism from Turkey
TEHRANIran has hit back at “unconstructive” Turkish allegations that Tehran’s allies were violating a fragile cease-fire in Syria, accusing rebels of breaking the truce.
“The current cease-fire in Syria has been violated repeatedly by the anti-government armed opposition groups,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Jan. 4.
“[Turkey] should take necessary measures to deal with several instances of cease-fire violation by these groups and at the same time refrain from taking unreal stances and accusing other parties.”
He was responding to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who on Jan. 4 accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government of violating a cease-fire Ankara brokered with regime backer Moscow last week.
Çavuşoğlu warned that the “violations” were jeopardizing planned peace talks in Kazakhstan later this month.
Ghasemi criticized the “unconstructive remarks” and said they could “further complicate the current situation” in Syria.
Despite backing opposite sides in the conflict, Ankara and Moscow have worked closely to broker the cease-fire and plan the Astana talks, which Çavuşoğlu said could take place on Jan. 23.
Regime ally Iran is also involved in organizing the talks, and top official Alaeddin Boroujerdi was in Damascus on Jan. 4 for talks with Assad.
Meanwhile, Syrian pro-government forces clashed with rebels around the main water source for Damascus on Jan. 5, a monitor said, threatening the fragile cease-fire as it entered its seventh day.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime troops backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement were battling to recapture parts of the Wadi Barada region from rebels.
The area north of Damascus is the main source of water to the capital.
The Observatory, a Britain-based monitor of Syria’s conflict, said regime forces had late on Jan. 4 launched “dozens of air strikes on parts of Wadi Barada along with artillery and rocket fire, killing a firefighter.”