Iran parliament speaker cancels Istanbul visit over Turkey offensive in Syria

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani has cancelled his scheduled visit to the Turkish city of Istanbul following yesterday’s decision by Ankara to launch military operation “Peace Spring” in north-east Syria against Kurdish militias to establish what it calls a “safe zone” between the two countries.

The official invitation to Istanbul was extended by Larijani’s Turkish counterpart Mustafa Sentop and he was due to attend a parliamentary meeting today.

However, according to the Iranian parliament’s official news agency ICANA, Larijani’s trip was called off after the Turkish incursion into Syrian territory.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday stated on Twitter that the military operation “will neutralize terror threats against Turkey and lead to the establishment of a safe zone, facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to their homes,” and also reaffirmed Turkish commitment in preserving “Syria’s territorial integrity”.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who acknowledges Turkish concerns but opposes military intervention in Syria, yesterday called on Ankara to show restraint and warned that such actions “would not benefit the region”.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Students News Agency reported that Iran’s military had launched an unannounced military exercise near the country’s border with Turkey.

Turkey had been poised to enter north-east Syria since US troops, who have been fighting with Kurdish-led forces against Daesh, started to leave in an abrupt policy shift by US President Donald Trump, widely interpreted to be a “green light” for Ankara to carry out military action.

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