QAMISHLO (Kurdistan 24) – Pro-government news outlets in Syria on Monday claimed an agreement was struck between the Kurdish authorities in the country’s north (known as Rojava) and the central government in Damascus after the former took down their flags in the cities across the region.
Kurdish officials in Rojava who talked to Kurdistan 24 denied any agreement with the government and explained the move was part of an administrative decision to organize and regulate roadside advertising.
“It has nothing to do with politics,” said Nidal Mahmoud, the deputy head of the Municipalities Body in Rojava.
However, Damascus-based Watan newspaper and Al-Masdar News agency reported that the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had reached a preliminary agreement in the Hasakah region set to increase SAA influence in areas under YPG control.
According to the alleged agreement, the YPG had agreed to remove all posters of Abdullah Ocalan — one of the founding members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is associated with the YPG — from areas under its control.
The agreement reportedly came as a result of recent negotiations between Kurdish and Syrian government officials in both Damascus and Qamishlo.
Negotiations began after Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, in an interview with the state-run television Russia Today (RT), threatened to take areas held by the US-backed, YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) by force “should negotiations fail.”
“We’re going to use two methods to deal with the SDF: First, we open doors for negotiations – because the majority of them are Syrians… If that fails, we will liberate those areas [in northern Syria] by force,” he said.
According to pro-government news outlets, such agreements are part of a wider effort by the Syrian government to convince Kurdish factions in Syria’s northeast to abandon their alliance with the United States.
Part of the agreement’s terms is the establishment of joint checkpoints manned by YPG and Syrian regime forces.
In exchange, the Syrian government has offered to include the Kurdish language in Syria’s educational system, consider military service in the YPG as analogous to service in the SAA, and the creation of a permanent post for a Kurdish official in the Syrian state oil ministry.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Kurdistan 24 correspondent Dilovan Chato contributed to this report from Qamishlo)