Tuesday 22 October 2019
News ID: 71487
Publish Date: 08 October 2019 - 21:59
Iran, Russia Oppose Incursion


ANKARA (Dispatches) -- Turkey will not bow to threats over its Syria plans, the Turkish vice president said Tuesday in an apparent response to President Donald Trump's warning to Ankara the previous day about the scope of its planned military incursion into northeastern Syria.
Trump said earlier this week the United States would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters, but he then threatened to destroy the Turks' economy if they went too far.
The U.S. president later cast his decision to abandon the Kurdish fighters in Syria as fulfilling a campaign promise to withdraw from "endless war" in the Middle East, even as Republican critics and others said he was sacrificing a U.S. ally.
Trump insisted in new tweets on Tuesday that, "in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds," while also lauding "very good" relations with "big trading partner" Turkey.
 Trump said he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet at the White House next month.
In Ankara, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey was intent on combating Kurdish militants across its border in Syria and on creating a zone that would allow Turkey to resettle Syrian refugees there.
"Where Turkey's security is concerned, we determine our own path but we set our own limits," Oktay said.
In the Syrian capital of Damascus, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad called on the country's Kurds to rejoin the government side after apparently being abandoned by their U.S. allies.
"The homeland welcomes all its sons and Damascus will solve all Syrian problems in a positive way, away from violence," Meqdad said in an interview with the daily Al-Watan.
As for the expected Turkish incursion, Meqdad added that the Syrian government "will defend all Syrian territory and will not accept any occupation of any land or iota of the Syrian soil."
The Syrian Kurdish force has pledged to fight back, raising the potential for an eruption of new warfare in Syria.
"We will not hesitate for a moment in defending our people" against Turkish troops, the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement.
SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said warned that "especially in the recently-liberated areas," Daesh would "seize the opportunity of such an (Turkish) invasion, and it may return to impose their control."  
On Tuesday, a top Kurdish official said Kurds controlling northern Syria may open talks with Damascus and Russia.
"If America vacates the area and especially the border area for certain we, as a self administration and as the SDF, will be forced to study all the available options,” Badran Jia Kurd told Reuters news agency.
"At that time we may hold talks with Damascus or the Russian side to fill the void or block the Turkish attack, so this may develop and there could be meetings and contacts in case of a vacuum,” he added.
Turkey, which considers Kurdish fighters in Syria terrorists and links them to a decades-old insurgency in Turkey, has already launched two major incursions into northern Syria over the past years. The first was in 2016, when Turkey and militants it backs attacked areas west of the Euphrates River. Last year Turkey launched an attack on the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 people.
In Tehran, Iran urged Turkey not to go ahead with its planned an attack on Syrian Kurds. Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif called his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to express Tehran's opposition to the anticipated Turkish operation. Zarif urged Turkey to respect Syria's integrity and sovereignty.
Iran's Foreign Ministry said it has been following "worrying news of the possibility of the Turkish military forces entering Syrian soil and believes that the occurrence of such an action will not only not end Turkey's security concerns but will lead to widespread material and human damage".
The ministry also denounced Washington’s "illegitimate” military presence in Syria, saying the decision for the United States to pull its forces out should have been made a long time ago.
In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed hope that Washington’s plan to withdraw its forces from the northern parts of Syria would contribute to the restoration of peace and stability to the Arab country.
Tehran believes the U.S. should have made the decision to "end the occupation of Syrian territories and withdraw its military forces from the country much sooner,” it said.
Russian Government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it had not been informed about any agreement between Turkey and the U.S.
Peskov told reporters it remained to be seen how many U.S. troops would be withdrawn, and that other details about the plans remained unclear. "We are very closely watching the situation," he said.
On Monday, he said any foreign military forces "with illegal presence” should leave Syria.
Iran, Turkey and Russia have been working together as part of the so-called Astana group on the Syria war, talks that have run parallel to UN efforts to find a solution to the conflict.




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