DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran is concerned that an uptick in violations of Syria’s ceasefire could harm planned peace talks this week aimed at ending the five-year-old civil war, a deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the comments, cited in state news agency IRNA, after speaking to United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, who arrived in Tehran after holding meetings with Syria’s foreign minister in Damascus on Monday.
“One of our main concerns in Syria is the increasing activities of armed groups in recent days and the increase in breaches of the ceasefire that can harm the political process (of peace talks),” Abdollahian said.
Nevertheless, he said Tehran was “happy to see that we are approaching a political solution to this crisis”, ahead of talks due to resume in Geneva on Wednesday.
The United States on Monday also expressed concern at the recent increase in violence, which it blamed on Syrian government forces that are backed by Iran.
Iran has called for a political solution to Syria’s civil war, but has also sent troops to bolster President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and rejected the opposition’s demands that Assad depart as a precondition for peace.
Four Iranian soldiers have been killed in Syria since the deployment of regular troops was announced last week. Several members of the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have also been killed fighting alongside Assad’s forces.
Reporting by Sam Wilkin and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Heavens