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As Turkey continues to advance on the autonomous Kurdish region of Rojava (northern Syria), opposition is coming from an unlikely voice in the middle east. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has taken a strong stance of opposition to what he views as a violation of sovereignty by Turkish military forces. Iran, who views the Turkish and Kurdish as allies, wants the conflict to cease in the best interest of all parties involved. While the call for peace is not generally associated with Iran, the act is a positive for middle eastern relations between nations.
In a public statement President Rouhani said, “Our main issue here is that the intervention of military forces of one country should be based on the consent of the host country. We wish that the Turkish operation in Syria will end at the earliest time because our Turkish, Kurdish, and Syrian brothers are being killed, a fact we reject.” The death and destruction of both sides is something Rouhani claims will be the only result of the clashes between the Turkish and Kurdish peoples.
Iran has supported the Syrian regime since the civil wars inception in 2011 and has aided in the combating of the Islamic state through militia support. The PMU (Popular Mobilization Units) are a Iranian backed militia and have been used alongside the Iraqi Hasdt al-Shaabi (also partially supported by Iran) to combat ISIS elements in Iraq alongside Iraqi army and Peshmerga forces. These same militias later launched a massive operation to retake control of the city Kirkuk from Peshmerga forces and Kurdish control in October 2017.
The Turkish military operation, Operation Olive Branch, to capture the northern Syrian cities of Afrin and Manbij from Kurdish control began on January 20th this year. Large amounts of casualties, both civilian and military, have occurred with the Kurdish owning the majority of the numbers. Since it’s start there has been little sway in the level of aggression seen and it does not appear that the Turkish or Kurdish military plan on giving up anytime soon.
Featured Image Courtesy of By Mahmoud Bali via Wikimedia Commons