Syrian opposition group that includes Kurds in Turkey for talks
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Officials from the Syrian opposition group known as the Peace and Freedom Front, an alliance of Kurdish, Assyrian, and Arabic parties, arrived earlier this week in Turkey to meet with Turkish, EU, and US diplomats on the situation in Syria.
The group said in a statement that members had attended meetings at the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, during which they discussed the goals of various sides operating in Syria.
According to the statement, Turkey expressed its support for the Syrian people and refugees as well as for international efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis in accordance with international law.
The statement added that the delegation from the Peace and Freedom Front will meet in Istanbul with the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Etilaf), US, and EU diplomats.
The party was created on July 28 in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli to counter its rival, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC).
The group includes the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC), the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO), Ahmad Jarba’s Tomorrow Movement, and the Arab Council of Jazira and Euphrates. The KNC and ADO are also part of the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition known in Arabic as Etilaf.
The SDC, on the other hand, was formed in December 2015 at a conference in northeastern Syria with the stated aim of promoting a secular, democratic vision for the country, but is dominated by the Democratic Union Party and is the de facto political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Gabriel Moushe, the spokesperson for the group, and a member of Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) told Kurdistan 24 during a visit to Erbil on Monday that the group supports the negotiations between parties aligned to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council that have been ongoing since November 2019.
It’s most likely that the intra-Kurdish dialogue and the overall security situation in northeast Syria was high on the list of topics, particularly in relation to Turkey’s stark opposition to any Kurdish unity talks that include the PYD.
“In the future, we want all the (ethnic) components and nations of the region, including the Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldeans, Arabs and Kurds, to take part in these (Kurdish dialogue) negotiations, so that the current administration can be re-established in a just manner,” Moushe told Kurdistan 24.
He added that ADO discussed joining the local Kurdish-led administration in 2014, but that these talks ultimately failed. Moushe expressed hope that other ethnic communities will hopefully join a new and more inclusive and democratic administration.
Turkish-backed groups have also been accused of various human rights abuses in areas under Turkish control, such as Tal Abyad, Afrin and Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain).
Although the KNC is a member of the Turkish-backed opposition, it has also criticized Ankara’s military presence in Syria.
“There are constant calls and demands for the withdrawal of Turkey and the armed factions affiliated to it from the regions of Afrin, Girispi (Tal Abyad) and Serekaniye,” the Political Bureau of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (KDP-S), one of the leading members within the KNC, said in a report on Wednesday.
It also said the suffering of Syrian civilians in areas under Turkish control should be ended to “provide the factors for the return of the displaced to their properties and places of residence, to be managed by their original inhabitants, and to compensate the affected and those whose money and possessions were stolen.”
Editing by John J. Catherine