Turkish FM talks to Iranian counterpart four times in two days over Aleppo deal

Turkish FM talks to Iranian counterpart four times in two days over Aleppo deal

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish FM talks to Iranian counterpart four times in two days over Aleppo deal Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif have spoken over the phone four times in a bid to secure the implementation of the ceasefire deal, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu said on Dec. 15.

Addressing allegations that Iran has imposed new conditions on the agreement, including the evacuation of some civilians from two Shiite-majority villages in northwestern Syria under rebel siege, Müftüoğlu simply said “it would not be right to impose additional conditions on the Aleppo deal.” 

He added that efforts for the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo and the opening of a humanitarian corridor between “should be kept separate, if Iran has some demands,” stressing that Turkey’s priority is the safe evacuation of civilians from Aleppo.

“This deal primarily aims to open a humanitarian corridor and end the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo … If there is another humanitarian situation in another region, Turkey is ready to contribute in order to prevent humanitarian drama if other places are on the agenda,” Müftüoğlu said.

Meanwhile, the Iran Embassy in Ankara described reports on Aleppo circulating in some media outlets as “manipulative,” claiming they were influenced by reports in outlets linked to ISIL, al-Nusra and other terror organizations.   

The embassy also highlighted that Tehran wants to continue its diplomatic connections and coordination with Ankara in "improving relations with neighbors, fighting terrorism and extremism, contributing to healing the wounds of the Syrian people and cooperating to protect Syria's territorial integrity."

Four civilians were killed and another four were injured when Iranian-backed Shiite militias opened fire on the first convoy departed from Aleppo on Dec. 15 after a deal for evacuation was resumed. 

Müftüoğlu stated that the deal was resumed after a phone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on late Dec. 14.

Officials with two Syrian rebel groups and a United Nations official said on Dec. 14 that Iran had introduced new conditions to the Aleppo ceasefire and evacuation deal negotiated by Russia and Turkey.

One of the rebel officials and the U.N. official said Iran, which backs powerful militias fighting in Aleppo on the government side, wanted a simultaneous evacuation of wounded from the Shiite Muslim villages of Foua and Kefraya that are besieged by rebels.