07/20/2022, 18.33
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Iran blocks Erdogan's operation in Syria

The final communiqué after the meeting of the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran contains a vague commitment to "fight[ing] terrorism in all its forms". During his meeting with the Turkish leader, Iran’s Khamenei warns against creating a “buffer zone” against the Kurds. Meanwhile, the war of attrition continues along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met yesterday in Tehran as part of the process to bring peace to Syria.

In their final press release, the three leaders agreed to “continue to work together to fight terrorism in all its forms” and reject “all attempts to create new realities on the ground [. . .], including illegitimate self-rule initiatives”.  However, neither Iran nor Russia gave Turkey a green light to launch a military offensive against Syrian Kurds.

During his meeting with the Turkish leader, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was even more categorical. In his view, “Any military strike on Syria will harm the region and will benefit terrorists,” and be detrimental to Turkey.

In recent months, the Turkish president repeatedly expressed his intention to launch a new vast operation in northern Syria to create a 30-kilometre buffer zone that would stop cross-border incursions by the military forces of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Such a move would be politically expedient for Erdoğan ahead of next year's presidential vote, but for Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who is backed by Iran and Russia, it would be an open violation of Syria’s territorial integrity.

The Tehran summit was the first since 2020 when the leaders held a virtual meeting. The communiqué released by the Astana Group notes only what the three parties agreed upon, namely finding ways to ease tensions in the Idlib area, opposing oil exports from areas controlled by Syrian Kurds with US support, and condemning Israeli air raids.

The three also expressed hope that Constitutional Committee can continue its work within the framework of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to reach an agreement on a structure for the country's governance “without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines”.

However, it is not clear where this can be done since Russia, in light of the developments of the war in Ukraine, no longer considers Geneva a neutral forum for discussion.

The three countries have agreed to meet again by the end of 2022 in Russia. Like in Tehran, it will be inevitably influenced by evolving alliances over Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the war of attrition on the border between Turkey and Syria continues. Just as the meeting got underway in Tehran Syrian army positions in Tal Rifat were hit by two Turkish drone strikes in the space of 24 hours.

According to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) two Syrian military personnel were wounded.

Today the commander-in-chief of the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi met with US General Michael Kurilla, commander of US operations in the Middle East.

Abdi expressed concern for the region’s security in light of Turkish threats, especially the negative impact they could have on efforts to fight the Islamic State group, which is trying to reorganise.

For his part, General Kurilla reiterated US opposition to any Turkish operation in northern and eastern Syria.

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