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Turkey and Iran vow to continue their alliance with Russia on Syria

TURKEY / IRAN (OBSERVATORY) –¬†Turkey and Iran pledged on Tuesday to push ahead with their alliance with Russia in Syria, the Turkish presidency said after Ankara supported Western strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“The two presidents stressed the importance of continuing the joint efforts of Turkey, Iran and Russia … to protect the territorial integrity of Syria and to reach a peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis,” a presidential source said after a telephone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

Russia and Iran are key allies of Assad and their military intervention is key to his survival in power.

Moscow and Tehran have worked to resolve the conflict with Ankara over the past months.

The emphasis on moving forward with the alliance came after French President Emmanuel Macron said the strikes against Syria on Saturday had created a rift between Turkey and Russia.

Erdogan welcomed the strikes by Britain, the United States and France as “appropriate” in response to a presumed chemical attack in Duma, which Russia said was “fabricated.”

During his meeting with Rohani, Erdogan said Turkey’s opposition to the use of chemical weapons was “more than clear” and warned against “escalation of tension.”

Turkey has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1952, and its partners are worried about its relations with Moscow.

Earlier this month, Erdogan hosted a summit on Syria in the presence of Iranian and Russian presidents Vladimir Putin in Ankara, the bilateral meeting after a trilateral talks in November in Sochi on the Black Sea.

A third summit is scheduled to be held in Tehran, which has yet to be set.

Turkey’s allies are closely following Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which some officials say may not be commensurate with Western technology.