Iran agrees de-escalation ‘only solution’ to solve crisis with US

President Donald Trump said on January 8 that Iran appeared to be ‘standing down’ after missile strikes on US troop bases in Iraq that resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths. (AFP)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Iran agrees de-escalation ‘only solution’ to solve crisis with US

  • Donald Trump still willing to ‘sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward’ with Iran
  • Pakistan has offered to mediate between Tehran and US ally Riyadh

TEHRAN: Iran has signaled it favors a de-escalation after 10 days of heightened tensions with the United States during which both sides fired missiles and Tehran accidentally shot down a passenger aircraft.
Security was stepped up in Iran’s capital Sunday after a vigil the previous night for those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry protest and police temporarily arrested the British ambassador for being there.
US President Donald Trump warned Iran against harming demonstrators and against a repeat of a deadly crackdown against rallies in November sparked by a fuel price hike.
“To the leaders of Iran — DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump tweeted Sunday in his occasional all-capitals style.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, however, said Trump was still willing to “sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward” with Iran, although Tehran has steadfastly refused to hold talks with Washington unless it lifts sanctions first.
Tehran said it favored an easing of tensions after its arch-enemy Washington on January 3 killed a revered Iranian general, Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, in a Baghdad drone strike.
In a meeting between Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and the visiting emir of Qatar, both sides agreed de-escalation is the “only solution” to the regional crisis.
Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the region but also enjoys strong ties with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field.
“We agreed ... that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said on what was believed to be his first official visit to the Islamic republic.
For his part, Rouhani said: “We’ve decided to have more consultations and cooperation for the security of the entire region.”
Iran’s president also met with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country has offered to mediate between Tehran and US ally Riyadh.
In a briefing to parliament, Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said the missiles it fired last Wednesday on Iraqi bases hosting US troops were not aimed at killing American personnel.
The US said no American personnel were harmed in the attacks.
Across the border in Iraq, the military said rockets slammed on Sunday into Al-Balad, an Iraqi air base where US forces have been stationed, wounding two Iraqi officers and two airmen.
The base had held a small US Air Force contingent as well as American contractors, but a majority of these personnel had already been evacuated due to the tensions between the US and Iran, military sources said.


Turkish strikes kill three Kurds in Iraq

Updated 44 min 36 sec ago

Turkish strikes kill three Kurds in Iraq

  • Turkey launched a cross-border operation in mid-June against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in northern Iraq
  • The men were killed when they stopped outside a grocery store
ERBIL, Iraq: Turkish bombardment killed three Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, a local official said Friday, as Baghdad seeks to rally support to end Ankara’s offensive on its soil.
Turkey launched a cross-border ground and air operation in mid-June against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in the mountainous terrain of northern Iraq.
“A Turkish bombardment targeted a car in the village of Rashanki, in Dohuk province, killing three PKK fighters, and injuring a fourth who fled,” said Mushir Bashir, the local mayor, of the bombardment late Thursday.
The men, who were traveling in an off-road vehicle, were killed when they stopped outside a grocery store, he added.
The attack comes as Iraq tries to drum up support from its Arab neighbors to form a united front against Ankara’s offensive.
Turkey defends its right to bomb the PKK, which it considers to be a “terrorist” organization, and accuses Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan of not stopping the group.
Earlier this week, two senior Iraqi officers and their driver were killed in a Turkish drone strike, prompting Iraq to summon the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad for the third time in two months.
On Friday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein contacted his Bahraini and Emirati counterparts, after calling the day before the Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi and Kuwaiti foreign ministers, as well as Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Hussein pleaded for “a united position, forcing Turkey to withdraw its forces that have infiltrated Iraqi territory.”
Achieving that is a major challenge, analysts say.
Turkey, a major trading partner of Iraq and a regional heavyweight, has had several military posts in Iraqi Kurdistan for the past 25 years.
Now it is expanding its bases, Kurdish sources say.
The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. It has long used the rugged terrain of northern Iraq as a rear base to wage attacks on Turkey, which in turn had set up military positions inside Iraqi territory to fight them.
Since Turkey launched its offensive in mid-June, at least five civilians have been killed.
Ankara says at least seven of its men have been killed, and the PKK and its allies have lost 14 fighters.