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Iran says ‘understands’ Turkey’s need for Syria campaign

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Iran’s foreign minister signaled on Monday that Tehran would not oppose a new proposed Turkish military operation targeting outlawed Kurdish militants in Syria, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We understand Turkey’s security concerns very well,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters after talks in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

“We understand that… maybe a special operation might be needed,” he added. “Turkey’s security concerns must be tackled fully and permanently.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned over the past few weeks that he may soon launch a new offensive in Syria against Kurdish fighters waging an insurgency against the Turkish state.

These include the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which formed a crucial part of an international coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group.

Both Washington and Moscow have called for restraint from Turkey.

But Erdoğan has said he expects Turkey’s allies to “understand and respect” the proposed military campaign.

He said on Monday that the offensive would begin “as soon as our preparations are finished”.

Iran is a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an important trading partner for Turkey.

The two sides’ relations were rocked earlier this month by the arrest of eight people Turkey alleges worked for an Iranian assassination team scoping out Israeli targets in Istanbul.

The two ministers did not directly address the arrests in their prepared remarks.

Turkey has launched a string of offensives in Syria since 2016 targeting Kurdish militias as well as Islamic State group jihadists and forces loyal to Assad.

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