MESOP Iran Daily: Tehran Finally Criticizes Turkey’s Intervention in Northern Syria

1 Sept 2016 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Iran has finally criticized Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria, expressing its concern over the support that has enabled rebels to take territory from both the Islamic State and Kurds-led forces.

Ankara’s sudden move last Wednesday — with air support, tanks, and special forces — for the rebels who crossed the border has put Iran in a quandary. Tehran has been courting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since a coup failed to depose him on July 15, hoping to end Ankara’s backing of the rebels to overthrow the Assad regime. Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, have visited Turkey to talk about a political and military realignment.

However, the Turkish intervention has put the rebels in a stronger position, especially as rebel forces have also launched an offensive in northern Hama Province that has quickly taken more territory from the Syrian military (see separate entrySyria Daily, Sept 1: Rebels Take Another Town in Hama Offensive).

On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said Turkey’s move “complicates the regional situation”. While stating that “counter-terrorism efforts” — a reference to Ankara’s justification for the intervention — are important, Qassemi said, “[This] should not be an excuse for violating territorial integrity and conducting military operations in another country without the coordination of the central government.”

Qassemi also hit back at a quote from a British Foreign Office spokesman, cited by London’s Daily Mail, that Iran is “fostering instability in the Middle East”.Qassemi said the remarks were “unrealistic and improper”: Britain is expected to be well aware of Iran’s place in the Middle East and the situation in the region.

As a victim of terrorism, Iran has always been in the forefront of the fight against extremism and terrorism. The Islamic Republic of Iran is doing its utmost to help [establish] peace, stability and security in the region. He claimed that Iran’s substantial and escalating military intervention in Syria — under pressure since the spring by rebel offensives that have overrun positions held by Iranian units and Iranian-led foreign militias — is “an advisory presence in Syria at the request of the legal government”.

Iranian media are reporting the death of another Revolutionary Guards general in action in Syria. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Gholami, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, was on the front southwest of Aleppo city where rebels have taken key positions this month.

An official with the Seyyed al Shohada Division, where Gholami was deputy commander, denied the death and said the general is in a coma.