Tensions between Turkey and Iran appear to be on the rise as Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ambassador Hüseyin Müftüoğlu slammed late Monday his Iranian counterpart's remarks about Turkey.
A diplomatic spat between the two neighbors broke out after Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi accused Turkey of "supporting terrorist groups" in Syria, in retalitation to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's criticism of Iran over nationalism and sectarianism.
"It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that a country which does not hesitate from driving refugees to the battlefield accuses others of instability and tension in the region," Müftüoğlu said.
"Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi's remarks that Iran's regional policies are 'appreciated' and 'found just' are deeply contradictory to the concerns and complaints voiced on international platforms such as the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation," he added.
"It is expected from Iran that it takes constructive steps and reviews its regional policies instead of accusing countries that criticize its policies," Müftüoğlu concluded.
"Those who have carried out meddlesome, illegal and illegitimate measures, supported terrorist groups and caused bloodshed, tension and instability in the region to escalate cannot evade liability for such moves by playing a blame game," Qassemi had said on Sunday, in an apparent answer to top Turkish officials' criticisms.
Iran has come under fire many times for its support to Shiite militants in Syria and Iraq. President Erdoğan has criticised the country many times over its sectarian policies in the region, saying "There is Persian nationalism in the Middle East. We are against the division of Syria and Iraq but there are people desiring a divided region. We have to counter these efforts. We cannot sit still and watch these developments in the Middle East."
Iran has also deployed troops in Syria in addition to providing support to Shiite militants. Over ten Iranian generals have lost their lives on the ground in Syria so far.
Tehran and Ankara support opposite sides in the conflict in Syria with mostly Shiite Iran backing the regime of Bashar Assad while Turkey has backed elements of the Syrian opposition.