ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday warned Turkey against any military action in Syria, asserting that such moves would violate “Syria’s territorial sovereignty.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday renewed threats to invade northeastern Syria as soon as “today or tomorrow,” where US partner militias, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are stationed. The SDF – who retook large swaths of Syrian land from the so-called Islamic State – has stated it is prepared to defend itself.
Zarif’s comments came during an address to the Iranian Parliament in Tehran, where he brought up recent tensions between Syrian Kurds and the Turkish government, the Tehran-based Iran News website reported.
“We have stated that the only way to maintain security in Turkey is to establish the (Syrian) central government’s military presence in the border areas, and under the Adana Agreement, this can be done.”
He added that security in Syria could not be established through military operations “against Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
In 1998, Turkey and Syria signed the Adana Agreement, which allows Turkey to enter five kilometers deep into Syrian territory if Turkish security is threatened. The Adana agreement came after years of water disputes between the two countries, and Damascus’ hosting of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan was expelled on Oct. 9, 1998, before his capture one year later in Kenya. The Adana Agreement was signed on Oct. 20, 1998. Until now, Ocalan is imprisoned in Turkey.
Both Iranian and Russian officials have been outspoken in their opposition to the Kurdish-led SDF, calling for all the land under their control to be returned to Damascus, led by Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, they outlined that Ankara should re-establish relations with Damascus under the Adana agreement.
Zarif claimed the “Islamic Republic certainly believes that regional security is possible through observing two principles.”
“First, respect for the sovereignty and Syria’s territorial integrity and security of all regional countries, and second, respect for the rights of all its inhabitants, including our Kurdish brothers and sisters.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday also underlined that these issues could be resolved through an agreement between Turkey and Syria.
“We will do our utmost to facilitate this.”
Assad lost control of large parts of northeastern Syria during the civil war, which began in 2011. The SDF now controls nearly 30 percent of Syria.
Despite Erdogan’s threats, the Turkish army is yet to launch an operation south of their border amid warnings from the US against any unilateral Turkish activity.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Kosar Nawzad contributed to this report)