Iran: Return of Syrian Army to Manbij, 'important step'
Iran Press TV
Fri Dec 28, 2018 04:47PM
Iran's Foreign Ministry has welcomed the arrival of Syrian government forces for the first time in years in the strategic northern city of Manbij, previously held by Kurdish militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Following the reports on Friday that Syrian government forces gained control of Manbij, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the raising of Syria's national flag in the city was an "important step" towards the stabilization of the legal government in the Arab country.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes the necessity to respect Syria's national sovereignty and territorial integrity and regards the raising of Syria's national flag in the city of Manbij as an important step to consolidate the sovereignty of the constitutional government of Syria over the entire country and a new step to resolve the country's crisis," the Iranian spokesperson said.
The Syrian Army entered Manbij near the Turkish border, marking the return of territories held by US-backed militants to the government fold.
The army said it would guarantee "full security for all Syrian citizens and others present in the area."
Russia also welcomed the development, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling it a positive trend.
"Of course, this will help in stabilizing the situation. The enlargement of the zone under the control of government forces... is without doubt a positive trend," he said.
The city was held by US-backed YPG militia which Turkey regards an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Turkey had been sending so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants to Manbij in recent years, reportedly in preparation for an offensive to drive YPG fighters out of the city.
Earlier this month, Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed to step up efforts aimed at convening the first session of a UN-sponsored Syrian Constitutional Committee early next year in a bid to begin a viable peace process to the country's seven-year-old conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, reading out a joint statement after meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mevlut Cavusoglu, respectively, and outgoing UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, said the work of the new body "should be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement."
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