Iran does not favor Turkey’s al-Bab offensive, prefers regime operation
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARAThe Syrian regime should conduct a military offensive in the al-Bab region instead of the Turkish army, according to Iran, a Turkish diplomat has told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“They are in the view that a combat against DEASH [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] should rather be conducted by the Syrian regime,” the diplomat said, elaborating on discussions between Turkey and Iranian officials regarding Syria.
“Iranians think that the Euphrates Shield Operation was not a proper step and that Turkey will not be able to reach its goals through this operation,” said the diplomat. If Ankara abstains from military incursions into Syria, the Turkish army “will not be harmed,” Iranian officials told their Turkish counterparts, according to the diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous.
Turkey is aware that Tehran is not “happy” with the Euphrates Shield Operation, since Tehran does not want to see a strong Turkish military campaign in both Syria and Iraq, the diplomat said, referring also to Turkish troops’ presence at the Bashiqa military camp in northern Iraq.
Tehran has put pressure on Iraq to force Turkey to withdraw.
Iran expects the Turkey military presence in Iraq and Syria to be terminated as soon as possible, the diplomat noted.
Turkey launched a military incursion into Syria on Aug. 24, 2016, in support of Syrian rebels to try to drive ISIL away from the border area, and has frequently carried out raids on suspected militants’ safe houses in Istanbul and other cities.
An Iranian-made unmanned drone was used in an attack on a Turkish military camp in northern Syria on Nov. 24, killing four soldiers, the Hürriyet Daily News reported earlier.
When Turkish officials raised the issue to their Iranian counterpart, Tehran said “they were not involved” in the attack, the diplomat said.
In September 2016, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi voiced Tehran’s concern over the Turkish troops’ deployment in northern Syria, and called for the swift pullout of Turkish forces from the region.
“Although the fight against terrorism and efforts to maintain regional stability and security are an unchangeable and important principle in the foreign policy of peace-seeking countries in the region, this issue cannot and should not be used as a justification for violating the territorial integrity of another country by conducting military operations against that country without coordination with its central government, and by overlooking its national sovereignty,” Qassemi