‘Kurdish-led delegation holds fresh talks with Syria govt. in Damascus’
The political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has visited the Syrian capital Damascus for a second time since the central government extended an offer of negotiation to the mainly Kurdish militant group.
The group’s political branch, known as the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), held talks with Syrian authorities on local administration and decentralization, Syria’s al-Watan daily reported, quoting its co-chair Riad Darar as saying on Tuesday.
“All the discussions happening now are … to find out the other side’s point of view,” he said. The talks “need a lot of reflection to make decisions, and so the matter was left to other meetings,” Darar added.
A delegation, including SDF members, held talks with Damascus earlier this month and agreed to continue negotiations on ways to end the violence in Syria.
Back in May, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad had said he was “opening doors” for talks with the group.
The SDF is led by People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militant outfit.
The Kurdish militants controlling areas in northern Syria have been facing a Turkish offensive since January. That operation was launched out of Ankara’s anger over growing US support for the Kurdish militants, which it associates with the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants.
In the face of the incursion, the Kurds turned to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and asked for the central government’s help.
Months into Turkey’s military intervention, the Kurds lost the Afrin region to Ankara, which threatened to take its offensive to the nearby city of Manbij.
Amid Ankara’s advances, the US softened its staunch support for the Kurds and agreed to a roadmap with the Turkish government, which would see a complete withdrawal of Kurdish militants from Manbij.
Observers say Washington’s failure to stand by the Kurds against Turkey pushed them closer to the central government.
Ankara has also been propping up other militants to confront the YPG in Syria.
The talks between the SDF and Damascus are underway amid reports that the Turkish-backed militants are creating a “national army” with Ankara’s support in the Arab country’s northwest.
The reports say that the militants are sewing up rifts within their ranks towards building the force. It comprises some 35,000 members from the biggest factions that have been waging militancy against Syria since 2011.
Syria, however, views the Turkish military presence as “occupation,” and stiffly opposes Ankara’s contribution to militancy on its soil. It has warned to take action against all foreign occupying forces.