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Iran risks confrontation with Turkey over Idlib

While Iran's military command in Syria has issued direct warnings aimed at Turkey, President Hassan Rouhani and the Iranian foreign ministry continue to insist on the role of diplomacy and dialogue.
Turkish military vehicles enter the Bab al-Hawa crossing at the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib governorate, Syria, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi - RC2AXE9GPS00

Ankara’s defiant reaction to the Syrian army’s advances in the northwestern province of Idlib has led the Syrian crisis toward one of its most critical phases in the past several years, pushing Ankara and Damascus to the verge of a full-scale war.

The latest round of escalation began Feb. 27, when at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in a Syrian military airstrike in a rebel-held area of Idlib province. While Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar accused the Syrian government of deliberately targeting Turkish soldiers “despite warnings,” Assad’s ally Russia claimed the Turkish forces were “in the battle formations of terrorist groups.” However, the Syrian government’s other major ally, Iran, showed a rather neutral reaction, stressing the need to immediately “manage and calm the current tense situation.” The Iranian Foreign Ministry also called for holding a new Iranian-Russian-Turkish summit within the framework of the Astana process.

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