TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi voiced the country’s concern about Turkey’s ground incursion into a city and Kurdish enclave in Syria known as 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.
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 Syrian crisis, 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 rebel factions 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.
Kurdish militias shelled the Turkish province of Kilis across the border in response. A spokesman for the Kurdish militias that control the district said they had blocked the Turkish army-led initial attempt at a ground incursion on Sunday morning.