ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Friday during a Syrian Clans Forum in the northern city of Ain al-Issa that his group has taken part in indirect negotiations with Turkey through unnamed intermediaries.
SDF Commander-in-Chief Mazlum Abdi stressed that the US-backed and Kurdish-led organization is ready to negotiate with Ankara to resolve outstanding problems, not least among them security along the Syrian-Turkish border, through peaceful dialogue.
“If the Turkish state wants a political solution, it must return Afrin to its people,” he said, as reported by the Hawar News Agency. “Without the return of the people of Afrin to their homes and restoring Afrin’s normal status, we cannot reach a solution.”
Turkey occupied Afrin following a three-month military campaign that began in January 2018 and ended in March.
Abdi, often known as Mazlum Kobane, added that Turkey should not “interfere” with Syrian affairs and needed to respect the sovereignty of the Syrian state.
The statement of the SDF official comes during a visit by Turkey by James Jeffrey, the US Special Representative for Syria Engagement. It is unclear whether or not the remarks referred to the shuttle diplomacy the US is currently engaged in as part of separate meetings its representatives are having with both the SDF and Turkish officials.
Abdi stressed that there is still a need for US-led coalition forces and Russia to fight militant Islamist groups in the region.
“The Presence of Coalition forces in our areas and Russian forces in other areas of Syria has had a critical [effect] on the fight against terrorism. And as long as terrorist structures remain in Afrin, Bab, Jarablus, and Idlib their support will be needed,” he added.
Earlier in April, Abdi voiced the condition that Turkey leaves Afrin before talks with Ankara begin when he also said that a second prerequisite was “that Turkey ends its threats against northeastern Syria.”
Editing by John J. Catherine