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Damascus, SDF Hold Talks as Regime Troops Poised to Replace US Forces

Damascus, SDF Hold Talks as Regime Troops Poised to Replace US Forces

Sunday, 13 October, 2019 - 17:45
An explosion and smoke are seen over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Asharq Al-Awsat
The Syrian regime and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been holding negotiations at a Russian airbase in Syria, a Syrian Kurdish politician told Reuters on Sunday, expressing hope for a deal that would halt a Turkish attack.

Turkish forces backed by Syrian rebel groups launched an offensive on Wednesday into areas of northern Syria controlled by the SDF.

Ahmed Suleiman, a senior member of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, told Reuters the talks were being held at Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Latakia.

He did not say if he or his party - which is independent from the SDF - had a role in the negotiations.

Asked about Suleiman's comments, the head of the SDF media office Mustafa Bali said "no comment". "We have confirmed from the start of the (Turkish) invasion that we will study all options that could spare our people ethnic cleansing," he said.

Suleiman said he hoped for an agreement between the sides that would "halt the ongoing war and especially its catastrophic and dangerous consequences".

He said the talks could be moved to Damascus, from where he was speaking to Reuters via Whatsapp messenger.

"We are now in Damascus, this is what I can say at present. We hope an agreement is reached that halts the war and its dangerous and catastrophic consequences on the citizens east of the Euphrates".

His party, one of Syria's oldest Kurdish groups, is not involved in the autonomous administration set up by the SDF and other Kurdish groups such as the PYD party in northern Syria.

News of the talks came as regime media said the Syrian army has begun deploying its troops to northern Syria battlefronts to "confront the Turkish aggression" on Syrian territory.

State media did not say where Syrian army troops were deploying in northern Syria.

But a Syrian Kurdish official and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Syrian government forces were poised to enter Kurdish-controlled towns, from which US troops are withdrawing amid the Turkish offensive.

The Kurdish official would not disclose details but the Associated Press quoted him as saying that a deal with Syrian Kurdish forces through Russia has been reached to deploy government forces in certain border towns.

The Observatory said the deal covered the towns of Kobani and Manbij. US troops have been deployed in the towns after they were cleared of ISIS militants in 2015.

The announcement comes after US officials said American troops are withdrawing from northern Syria.

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