Syrian Kurds say Afrin liberation main topic in any negotiations

"The liberation of Afrin is one of the main topics for any negotiations with other parts of the country."

KOBANI (Kurdistan 24) – Polat Can, a senior commander of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said on Sunday that the liberation of Afrin is one of the main topics for any negotiations with other parts of the country.

“As SDF, YPG, YPJ forces, we keep in mind, and our top priority is the process of the liberation of Afrin. Afrin is first, and Afrin is above any other considerations,” the SDF commander wrote on his official Twitter account.

“The liberation of Afrin and the expulsion of the invaders and the return of its people to it [Afrin] will be at the top of our agenda and the main condition for all our meetings and understandings and our endeavors with any other party,” he added.

Talks were held two weeks ago between the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) and Damascus. Kurdish officials say they are willing to help Damascus fight Islamist militants in Idlib if Afrin is also liberated from the same militants that are backed by Turkey in the former Kurdish-held region.

The former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, told Kurdistan 24 they are ready to fight “wherever, there are terrorists.”

“Fighting in Idlib or Afrin is our duty and responsibility, and when we fight in Idlib, it will be our decision as we are not tools in the hands of others,” he said.

According to Nicholas A. Heras, a Middle East security analyst at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, the Syrian Kurds could only do this with Russian support.

“The YPG needs to weigh carefully whether it gains from participating in a war against Idlib. So long as the Trump administration has no quarrel with the idea, the YPG could gain support from Russia to find a workable arrangement to bring Afrin back to the YPG,” he said.

But YPG top commander Sipan Hemo told Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday that the Syrian government is not serious about launching an operation in Idlib.

“We have no proposals to make as long as the regime does not have a clear plan,” he said.

Hemo revealed the YPG’s military operations in Afrin continue and will grow in intensity with time.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany