Iran’s top diplomat on Saturday condemned Israel’s latest air strike on Syria and criticized recent threats from Turkey over another planned invasion by northern Ankara in northern Syria.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s remarks came at the start of his visit to Syria, where he was expected to discuss mutual relations and regional affairs with top Syrian officials.
Iran has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s strongest supporters and has sent thousands of fighters from across the region to help its troops in Syria’s 11-year conflict. The war killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half of the country’s pre – war population of 23 million.
Amirabdollahian’s visit comes hours after Israel carried out an air strike on a Syrian coastal town near the border with Lebanon and wounded two people, according to state media reports in Syria.
Turkey buffer zone
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said he was planning another major cross-border military invasion of Syria to create a 30-kilometer (19-mile) deep buffer zone along the border with Turkey, and promised to help U.S. allied Syrian Kurdish fighters for to fight the area. .
Erdogan’s attempt in 2019 to create the buffer has failed, although Turkish troops are being deployed inside Syria following previous invasions to support anti-Assad Syrian opposition fighters. Ankara regards US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists linked to Kurdish insurgents within Turkey’s borders.
“We understand the concerns of our neighbor Turkey, but we are against any military measure in Syria,” Amirabdollahian said, adding that Iran was trying to “resolve the misunderstanding between Turkey and Syria through dialogue.”
Amirabdollahian met with Assad later on Saturday, telling the Iranian envoy that Turkey’s “pretexts to justify its aggression in Syria are false, misleading and have nothing to do with reality.” Assad’s office also quoted the president as saying that Turkey’s military presence in Syria violated international law.
Analysts said Erdogan was benefiting from the war in Ukraine to further his own goals in Syria. Turkey this week agreed to lift its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, saying the Nordic nations had agreed to include groups that see Ankara as a national security threat, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian to close expansion.
Turkey has demanded that Finland and Sweden extradite wanted individuals and lift arms restrictions imposed on Ankara following Turkey’s 2019 military invasion of northeastern Syria.
Amirabdollahian condemned Israel for attacking Syria. The Saturday morning attack was the first since an air strike on June 10 at Damascus International Airport caused significant damage to the airport and rendered its main career unusable. The airport was closed for two weeks for repairs before flights resumed on June 23.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said Israeli warplanes flying over northern Lebanon fired missiles at several chicken farms in the village of Hamidiyeh, south of the coastal city of Tartus. The attack took place a few kilometers (miles) north of the border with Lebanon.
SANA said two people, including a woman, were injured and that there was material damage.
Over the years, Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks on targets in Syria, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. Israel says it is targeting bases of Iran-allied militias, such as the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, which has fighters deployed in Syria fighting on the side of Assad’s government forces and ship weapons allegedly tied to the militias.
The June strike on the Damascus International Airport strike was a major escalation in Israel’s campaign, which further increased tensions between Israel on the one hand and Iran and Hezbollah on the other.