Iran foreign minister’s Turkey visit postponed

At least nine people dead after separate attacks on Turkish security forces

Two members of Turkish police special forces patrol outside a police station after an attack in Istanbul on Monday. Photograph: Huseyin Aldemi/Reuters

Two members of Turkish police special forces patrol outside a police station after an attack in Istanbul on Monday. Photograph: Huseyin Aldemi/Reuters

 

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif’s visit to Turkey, during which he was expected to discuss the Syrian conflict, has been postponed, a Turkish foreign ministry official said on Tuesday.

The official gave no further details.

Turkey and Iran back opposing sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen, but their economic interdependence has kept relations broadly on track.

Turkey has stepped up its involvement in Syria’s civil war in recent weeks, calling for a protected zone that could relieve pressure on rebels fighting against forces loyal to president Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Iran.

Mr Zarif was expected in Beirut later on Tuesday. He was also expected to visit Moscow next week, Tass news agency quoted the Iranian embassy as saying on Monday.

Two women shot at the US consulate in Istanbul on Monday and at least nine people were killed in a wave of separate attacks on Turkish security forces, weeks after a crackdown on Islamic State, Kurdish and far-left militants.

The Nato member has been on a heightened state of alert since launching its “synchronised war on terror“ last month, including air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq. It has also rounded up hundreds of suspected militants at home.

A far-left group that killed a Turkish security guard in a 2013 suicide bombing of the US Embassy in Ankara claimed it was involved in the attack in which two women opened fire on the consulate early on Monday morning.

The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C), considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and Turkey, said one of its members was involved, and called Washington the “arch enemy“ of the people of the Middle East and the world.

Police with automatic rifles cordoned off streets around the consulate in the Sariyer district on the European side of Istanbul.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the consulate would be open for business on Tuesday.

On the other side of Istanbul, a vehicle laden with explosives was used to attack a police station, wounding three police officers and seven civilians, police said.

One of the attackers was killed during the bombing, while two others and a police officer died in a subsequent firefight, the Istanbul governor’s office said.

Shooting continued into the morning in the Sultanbeyli district on the Asian side of the Bosphorus waterway, which divides Istanbul, as police carried out raids.

Reuters