Iran and Russia warn Turkey against military offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces in Syria – The Irish Times

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Iran and Russia have warned Turkey against mounting a plan for a military offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The warnings were delivered at a summit in Tehran bringing together Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamaeni and President Ebrahim Raisi and his Russian and Turkish counterparts Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ayatollah Khamenei told Mr Erdogan that military action would be “definitely detrimental to Syria, Turkey and the region” and could exacerbate terrorism, while Mr Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov , said that Russia opposes any action that violates the territorial integrity of Syria.

In their final statement, the three presidents reaffirmed their commitment to countering “terrorism in all its forms” but “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of fighting terrorism”, when such is the objective of the planned Turkish operation.

Since they have also pledged to “oppose separatist programs” and have sworn to protect Syrian sovereignty, Mr. Erdogan could be dissuaded from mounting a first operation against the Kurds.

He believes such a move could bolster his waning popularity ahead of the 2023 presidential election, which coincides with the centenary of the founding of the modern Turkish state.

As the godfather of the Kurds, the United States has also urged Ankara to drop its plan to invade the Kurdish-held Syrian border towns of Manbij and Tel Rifaat. A Turkish attack could force US troops deployed with Kurdish allies to join forces with Iranian and Russian forces to resist the Turkish onslaught.

Syrian army units and allied pro-Iranian militiamen have already reinforced Kurdish fighters in these two towns, while Russian military planes have moved to an airfield near the eastern city of Hassakeh. Syria, in anticipation of a Turkish offensive.

Mr Erdogan has launched three invasions of Syria since 2016 in a bid to establish a 30km-wide “safe zone” free of Kurdish fighters who Ankara says are linked to Turkey’s breakaway Kurdish Workers’ Party. It also seeks to resettle in this area Syrian refugees whose presence is frowned upon in Turkey.

Tehran, Moscow and Ankara collaborated during the war in Syria, although Iran and Russia supported the Assad government and Turkey supported insurgents and jihadists and based them in Turkish-occupied enclaves where they were attacked by Kurdish fighters.

A new Turkish offensive could undermine Ankara’s cooperation with Russia and Iran on other issues.

At the summit, Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Putin failed to agree to open a safe route across the Black Sea for the transport of Ukrainian grain to foreign markets in order to alleviate hunger in this region and in Africa, according to UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

Ankara’s proposed increase in trade with Iran to 30 billion dollars (29.4 billion euros), including in the defense sector, and Tehran’s offer to renew a 25-year agreement to supply gas to Turkey may not materialize.

Russia and Iran, however, seem to be on the right track to strengthen their cooperation. Iran’s national oil company and Russia’s Gazprom have struck a $40 billion deal to develop oil and gas fields in defiance of sanctions. Having endured US and international sanctions for decades, Iran has also offered to help Russia navigate economically crippling measures.

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