Turkey Urges Russia, Iran To Stop Shi’ite Forces From Violating Syrian Truce

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Turkey has urged Russia and Iran to rein in Hizballah and other Shi’ite militias in Syria who Ankara accuses of repeatedly violating a nearly week-old cease-fire.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned on January 4 that if the violations continue, it will torpedo peace talks that Russia, Iran, and Turkey are organizing for January 23 in the capital of Kazakhstan.

“After the cease-fire, we see violations. When we look at who commits these violations, it is Hizballah, in particular Shi’ite groups and the regime,” Cavusoglu said, accoding to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“If we do not stop the increasing violations, the Astana process could fail,” he said, echoing a warning earlier this week by a coalition of Syrian rebel groups.

Despite his plea, fighting continued in Wadi Barada near Damascus on January 4, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The government accuses rebels in the area of sabotaging critical water infrastructure for the city.

The observatory said talks are under way to try to end the fighting and allow Russian teams to repair a damaged water pump.

Syrian opposition forces said air raids damaged the pump and accused Hizballah of preventing Russian officers from inspecting it.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.