(From AFP)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Saudi Arabia not to deploy troops in Syria, saying it would violate international law, while also demanding that Riyadh stop bombardments in Yemen.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini address media in Brussels Feb. 15
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini address media in Brussels Feb. 15

Zarif, whose country supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was questioned about Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it could deploy ground forces as part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

“Those who are operating in Syria without the authority of the sovereign government in Syria are violating international law,” he told a news conference at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Speaking later after a meeting with his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders, Zarif added: “We believe that’s dangerous… I believe everybody should put forces together to find a peaceful solution, not to create more danger and more hostility in the region.”

Zarif criticised Saudi Arabia’s views on Syrian peace talks.

“People from outside cannot say what should be the outcome of the negotiations,” he said. “The outcome of the negotiations will be determined by the Syrians inside the negotiating room, not in the capitals of the region particularly, in Riyadh. They will not and cannot make the decision for the people in Syria.”

Turkey strikes on Syria ‘illegal’

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday Turkish artillery strikes on northern Syria are “absolute lawlessness”, Russia’s RIA state news agency reported.

“What is happening on the Turkish-Syrian border now is absolute lawlessness…” Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Russian foreign ministry, was quoted as saying.

“Turkey shells settlements across the border, transfers money, people and supplies there.”

Turkey is asking its coalition partners, including the United States, to take part in a ground operation in Syria, in a new attempt to end the country’s civil war.

“If there is a consensus, Turkey will take part. Without a ground operation, it is impossible to stop this war,” an official said.

Turkey wants a secure strip of territory 10 km (6.2 miles) deep on the Syrian side of its border, including the town of Azaz, to prevent attempts to “change the demographic structure” of the area, Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said on Wednesday.

“There is a game being played with the aim of changing the demographic structure. Turkey should not be part of this game,” Akdogan said in an interview on the AHaber television station.

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