DAMASCUS (Kurdistan 24) – Senior members of the Kurdish-led council in northern Syria on Thursday announced they had visited Damascus to hold talks with the Syrian government.
“Our delegation arrived in Damascus to discuss political and military matters with the Syrian government,” Elham Ahmed, the co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) which administers Kurdish-controlled areas and is considered the political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told state-run news outlet Russia Today (RT).
This marks the first reported visit by the Kurdish authorities to Damascus.
The other SDC co-chair, Riad Darar, confirmed the visit, saying talks were initially expected to focus on matters of the delivery of services but added “I believe matters will develop to what is wider than that.”
“There could be some political and some security meetings,” he told Reuters.
Reports of negotiations and alleged agreements between the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria and the Syrian government spread after the former took down YPG flags in cities across the region earlier this month.
Additionally, the SDF and their civilian council in Tabqa city in Raqqa governorate last week clarified reports of the Euphrates Dam, the largest dam in Syria, being handed over to the Syrian government.
The SDF further explained the Syrian government and army were not at all present.
“This does not mean the Syrian regime and Baath party security departments have returned,” Mustefa Bali, head of the SDF media office, told Kurdistan 24.
Bali stated staff who belong to the Syrian government and already worked at the dam before the Syrian war began had been permitted to return to the area which is currently under the control of US-backed forces.
The SDF is spearheaded by the Syrian Kurdish YPG forces and has expanded beyond its previously-held Kurdish-majority parts in the north of the country. Its territory now includes the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s (IS) former base of operations in the country, and the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, on the Iraqi border.
The self-administration in the country’s northeast has said it wants the Syrian conflict to end with a decentralized system that secures rights for minorities, including Kurds.
The SDF and its leading component, the YPG, have mostly avoided conflict with Assad during the seven-year war, setting them apart from rebels in western Syria who fought to topple him.
Editing by Nadia Riva