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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.

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

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

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

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

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Both Washington and Moscow have called for restraint from Turkey.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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Turkey has launched a string of offensives in Syria since 2016 targeting Kurdish militias as well as ISIS militants and forces loyal to Assad.

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Read more: Syrian and Russian paratroopers conduct joint military drill

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