Russian envoy discusses situation in the Middle East with Iranian security chief – agency

TASS Russian News Agency | Oct 16, 2019 at 12:41 PM

TEHRAN, October 16. /TASS/. Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev has discussed Turkey's offensive in Syria and security in the Middle East with Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. The talks took place on Wednesday in Iran.

"Regional unrest must be resolved only through diplomacy between Syrian-Syrian and Yemeni-Yemeni parties," the ISNA agency quotes Shamkhani as saying. He reiterated Iran's disagreement with the Turkish operation in Syria, stressing that "any action that leads to intensify insecurity and escalates the crisis in the region must be halted immediately."

According to Shamkhani, the recent attack on the Sabiti tanker is aimed to launch a new wave of regional tensions. "Iran will give a harsh response to those seeking insecurity and unrest in the region," he added.

On October 9, Turkey announced the launch of Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, which began with airstrikes on Kurdish positions. The operation's goal is to create a buffer zone along the Turkish border, where, according to Ankara, Syrian refugees residing in Turkey could return. SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency) slammed the operation as aggression. The international community condemned Ankara's actions.

On October 13, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated that the US is beginning to withdraw 1,000 troops from northern Syria in the wake of the Turkish offensive.

An Iranian oil tanker Sabiti was attacked in the early hours of October 11 near the Saudi port of Jeddah. The vessel belongs to the National Iranian Tanker Company. The tanker was hit twice, which caused oil to spill in the Red Sea.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a statement on Tuesday that Tehran has proof of the Sabiti tanker being damaged by missiles: video footage from cameras located onboard the vessel and missile wreckage found on the tanker.