Iran Stresses Preserving Syria’s Territorial Integrity

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi voiced the country’s concern about Turkey’s ground "incursion" into the Syria city of Afrin and said Tehran stresses the need to protect the territorial integrity of the Arab country.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran closely follows the ongoing developments in the Syrian city of Afrin, and hopes that this (Turkish) operation will end immediately to prevent the deepening of the crisis in the border regions of Turkey and Syria,” Qassemi said in a statement on Sunday, according to Tasnim News Agency.

 He further emphasized that Iran “seriously stresses the necessity to protect the territorial integrity of Syria, respect the national sovereignty of the country and prevent the deterioration of the human tragedy”.

Tehran expects Ankara, as one of the guarantors of ceasefire in Syria, to remain committed to political processes to resolve the crisis in Syria, particularly the Astana peace negotiations, and play a constructive role in settling the crisis, Qassemi stated.

Turkey said on Sunday that it had begun a ground "incursion" into Afrin a day after intense aerial bombardment that signaled the opening of hostilities in a new phase of Ankara’s involvement in the war across the border.

The launch of the ground campaign by the Turkish military on Sunday, alongside Syrian armed groups under Ankara’s tutelage, came on the second day of a military offensive called “Operation Olive Branch” by the Turkish government, with dozens of airstrikes hitting more than 150 targets in the Kurdish-dominated district from late on Saturday afternoon.

Baqeri: Turkish attacks should not set the ground for exploitation by Syria's enemies 

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri on Sunday stressed the need for Syria’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity to remain intact and said Turkey ought to give assurances that it has no intention of undermining them.

In a telephone conversation with Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar on Sunday, Baqeri added that Turkish attacks should not set the ground for exploitation by the enemies of Syria and the Muslim world, especially the US and its allies, to advance their expansionist policies in Syria.

Nor should they undermine the trilateral negotiations between Tehran, Moscow and Ankara and the Astana peace talks on Syria that have produced some achievements so far, Iran’s top general went on to say.