Iran Daily: Zarif Warns Turkey and Saudi Arabia Over Syria


by Scott Lucas – eaworldview – 16 Feb 2016 – Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned Turkey and Saudi that there will be no ceasefire in Syria if the two countries continue to support rebels and intervene directly in the five-year conflict. Zarif put out the message at a press conference after meeting the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica de Mogherini in Brussels on Monday: “We agreed…that the fight against terrorism, especially against ISIL [the Islamic State] and [Jabhat] al-Nusra, will not stop to allow the allies of certain regions to regroup and that is extremely important.”

An essential backer of the Assad regime since 2012, Iran was involved in the International Syrian Support Group’s meeting in Munich last week, which concluded with the declaration of a pursuit of a “cessation of hostilities”.However, Zarif and other Iranian officials have said that any political transition cannot be based on the departure of President Assad from power, and they have denounced the deployment of Saudi warplanes and troops to Turkey as well as Ankara’s artillery strikes into northern Syria, firing on Kurdish forces who are advancing against the rebels.On Sunday, Iran’s military backed up the messages with the warning that it could send aircraft into Syria to accompany Russia’s four-month bombing campaign, which has enabled the success of offensives by Iranian units, Hezbollah fighters, and foreign militias alongside the Syrian Army.

The European Union’s de Mogherini made no response to Zarif’s message to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Instead, she repeated last week’s international declaration for “the concrete steps that need to be taken to de-escalate the conflict, [leading] to the cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access inside Syria”.