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Moscow Advises Damascus to Hold Talks With Kurds

Moscow Advises Damascus to Hold Talks With Kurds

Monday, 18 February, 2019 - 06:45
Syrian Democratic Forces fighters taking a break during an operation to expel ISIS militants from Baghouz in Syria's Deir Ezzor province, on Feb 16, 2019. (AFP)
Munich - Damascus - Raghida Bahnam and Asharq Al-Awsat
A high-ranking Russian official advised on Sunday Damascus to hold talks with Syria’s Kurds, weeks after President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria.

“We support this dialogue between Damascus and the Kurds,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin.

“If there are no foreign troops on the ground of Syria’s northeastern part, I think that the best solution would be to start up a dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus,” the Russian official said.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, US envoy James Jeffrey said the Trump administration has told allies “continuously since mid-December that this is not going to be an abrupt or a rapid withdrawal. It’s going to be an orderly, step-by-step withdrawal.”

However, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the same conference that Ankara’s main concern before and after the American pullout is the safety and security of its border and its people.

On Sunday, head of the Syrian regime Bashar Assad said no factions should be under the protection of Americans.

“To those groups who are betting on the Americans, we say the Americans will not protect you… the Americans will put you in their pockets to be used as bargaining tools,” he said in a speech in Damascus.

Assad added that his government would not bargain over the country’s constitution with the Turkey-backed opposition, lambasting a UN peace process that aims to rewrite its terms.

For their part, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement that their military council has discussed the future of relations with the Syrian regime, adding that the council hopes to “find a solution through dialogue within the framework of a unified Syria,” including “the constitutional recognition of the Autonomous Administration of North and East of Syria.”

In the battlefield in Syria, some ISIS militants continued to defend the last tiny patch of territory they hold on the banks of the Euphrates River near the Iraqi border.

The extremists are now encircled in a small area in Baghouz with a number of civilians they hold hostage.

“The village of Baghouz has fallen at the fighting level. ISIS militants are currently trapped in a 700-meter-square area,” SDF commander Ciya Furat told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday from Al-Omar oil field base, which lies 70 kilometers from the city of Deir Ezzor.

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