News ID: 266383
Published: 0109 GMT March 01, 2020

Rouhani: Escalation of tensions not in favor of anyone in region

Rouhani: Escalation of tensions not in favor of anyone in region

The Iranian president said the increase of tensions will not be in favor of anyone in the region, stressing that the issues should be solved through dialogue as military tensions between Turkey and Syria have escalated in recent weeks.

Hassan Rouhani made the remarks in a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late on Saturday, president’s official website reported.

Tensions surged between Damascus and Ankara in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib on Thursday after dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike.

Rouhani stressed the importance of cooperation among Iran, Turkey, and Russia in line with the Astana peace process to solve the conflict in Syria and said, "Trilateral cooperation at different levels enjoys special significance and as it has been already announced, Iran is ready to host the next round of the trilateral summit," according to Press TV.

The previous trilateral meeting, the fifth in a row, between the presidents of the countries acting as guarantors of the Astana process to promote a peaceful settlement in Syria took place in Ankara in September 2019.

The trio also maintains contacts as part of the high-level meetings on Syria in Nur-Sultan (previously Astana), Kazakhstan. The last such meeting was held in December 2019.

The Iranian president lauded the Astana peace process as a great achievement for regional security, saying that Tehran, Ankara, and Moscow have agreed on the importance of safeguarding Syria's territorial integrity, uprooting terrorists, protecting innocent civilians' lives, and settling the conflict in Idlib as soon as possible.

Rouhani said people should be protected and terrorists should be eliminated in Idlib.

"The situation in Idlib is very complicated, considering the presence of dangerous terrorists and [the necessity] to protect innocent people living in this region," Rouhani said.

Following the airstrike on Turkish soldiers, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the targeted Turkish troops were among terrorists.

Turkey on Sunday claimed that it had destroyed air defense systems, more than 100 tanks and downed two planes belonging to the Syrian Army, Reuters reported.

The Syrian Army confirmed that two of its warplanes were downed by Turkish jets after they were intercepted during a combat mission in Idlib Province.

Ankara has ramped up its attacks, including drone strikes, against the Syrian Army since Thursday, when 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Damascus. Another soldier was killed on Friday, bringing February’s death toll to 55.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry also said one of its drones had been downed on Sunday.

Diplomatic efforts by Ankara and Moscow, which supports the Syrian government, to defuse tensions have so far fallen short of achieving a cease-fire in the Idlib region, the country’s last major terrorist stronghold after nine years of war.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday agreed on the need to create a “favorable atmosphere” to improve working relations between their countries, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The ministers have declared in favor of the adoption of measures to create a favorable atmosphere that will facilitate the effectiveness of the dialogue on the implementation of agreements in support of the Syrian settlement and other issues on the agenda of Russian-Turkish relations,” the ministry said.

Lavrov and Cavusoglu, in a phone call, also discussed preparations for the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan.




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