Syria, Kurds dis­cuss pend­ing de­par­ture of US troops

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - News - BY BASSEM MROUE

Rus­sia is play­ing a pos­i­tive role in dis­cussing agree­ments that could be reached be­tween the Kurds and the gov­ern­ment. He gave no fur­ther de­tails say­ing that dis­cus­sions are still on­go­ing.

“There are hopes to reach a deal that pleases both sides as we are all Syr­i­ans,” he said.

Ibrahim Hamidi, a jour­nal­ist with the Saudi-owned news­pa­per Asharq AlAwsat, wrote in a re­port Satur­day that the top com­man­der of the YPG, Si­pan Hemo, se­cretly vis­ited Da­m­as­cus and Moscow where he of­fered “a se­cret deal” that would in­clude hand­ing over bor­der points to the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment in re­turn for ac­cept­ing a Kur­dish local ad­min­is­tra­tion with Rus­sia as a guar­an­tor.

The SDF, of which the YPG forms the back­bone, con­trols ar­eas along the bor­der with Turkey in the north and Iraq in the north­east. Hamidi added that the of­fer aims to reach “un­der­stand­ings to fill the gap fol­low­ing the Amer­i­can with­drawal and to cut the road for Turk­ish in­ter­ven­tion.” forces in Syria. Trump’s move has raised fears over clear­ing the way for a Turk­ish as­sault on Kur­dish fight­ers in Syria who fought along­side Amer­i­can troops against Is­lamic State group ex­trem­ists. Turkey con­sid­ers the Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units, or YPG, a ter­ror­ist group linked to an in­sur­gency within its own bor­ders.

The main U.S.-backed Kur­dish-led Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces has ex­pressed con­cerns over the planned with­drawal as Turkey has threat­ened to at­tack Kur­dish fight­ers in Syria.

The Kur­dish of­fi­cial said “dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing and the at­mos­phere is pos­i­tive.” He said that an un­der­stand­ing has been reached to “face any force that wants to oc­cupy Syria es­pe­cially in the north.”

The of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press that

Talks are on­go­ing be­tween the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment in Da­m­as­cus and Kur­dish of­fi­cials to reach a deal on how to fill the gap af­ter the with­drawal of U.S. troops from the coun­try, a Syr­ian Kur­dish of­fi­cial said Satur­day.

The of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of the talks’ se­crecy, said Syr­ian Kur­dish of­fi­cials have vis­ited Rus­sia, which is a main backer of the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment. He added that Rus­sia sup­ports the talks be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the Kur­dish-led mili­tia that con­trol nearly a third of the coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald

Trump an­nounced in mid-De­cem­ber that the U.S. will with­draw its 2,000

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