Turkey, Iran, Russia pledge to work toward stability in Syria

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By Middle East Affairs

After a joint summit Wednesday, Turkey, Iran and Russia pledged to work toward stabilization in Syria, Reuters reports.

In a statement after the meeting, the countries said they would “speed up their efforts to ensure calm on the ground” in Syria.

Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey backs anti-regime insurgents.

The Turkish-led coalition has been working since January to push the Kurdish YPG out of northwestern Syria, a group which Ankara views as a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party. Now, Ankara is claiming it will move into the northeast, where rebels near capital Damascus are succumbing to pro-regime forces.

Reuters said Damascus considers Turkey’s move into the region as an illegal invasion.

On Iranian state television Tuesday night, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seemingly referenced Turkey and the United States when he said “Iran believes that the presence of foreign forces in Syria without authorization of the Syrian government is illegal and must be halted.”

Speaking specifically about Turkey’s coalition against the Kurdish YPG, Rouhani also said the “developments in Afrin can only be useful if they do not violate Syria’s territorial integrity, and control of these areas should be handed over to the Syrian army.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Reuters reports, said that Turkey wanted to build a mobile hospital to help treat civilians from eastern Ghouta, as many are now in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, which borders Turkey. Erdogan also suggested a bakery to feed refugees and to build housing on both sides of the border, according to the news agency.

“We can save these people from tents and container cities by building housing. We can, all together, make that zone safe,” Erdogan said.

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