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Syrian Kurdish authorities do not rule out talks with Damascus if the US withdraws all its troops

October 8, 2019

BEIRUT, Oct. 8 (Reuters / EP) –

Kurdish authorities in northern Syria could start talks with Damascus and Russia to fill the security vacuum in case of a complete withdrawal of US forces from the border area with Turkey, a Syrian Kurdish official said Tuesday.

Badran Jia Kurd's statements to Reuters reflect the feeling among Kurdish forces in northern Syria after the partial withdrawal of US troops, which until now had helped prevent a Turkish assault on the region.

The United States withdrew 50 members of the special forces from a section of the Turkish border on Monday, opening the way for Turkey to launch a raid against Syrian Kurdish forces, which it considers terrorists.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDS), of which the YPG constitute the fundamental element, have described Washington's decision as “stab in the back”, after having played a key role in the defeat of the Islamic State.

“If the United States evacuates the area and especially the border area, we, as an administration and as an SDS, will be forced to study all available options,” Jia Kurd told Reuters.

“When the time comes, we could hold talks with Damascus or the Russian side to fill the void or block the Turkish attack, so this could evolve and there could be meetings and contacts in case of a vacuum,” he said.

Turkey has reported Tuesday that it has completed preparations for a military operation in northeastern Syria. Ankara considers the YPG as a terrorist organization as it claims that it is a subsidiary of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization.

The Kurdish administration was already in a similar situation at the end of 2018 when US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw all troops from Syria. The SDS held talks with Damascus that broke if progress.

Despite the enmity between the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, the result of years of systematic persecution under the Baaz regime, Syrian Kurdish dominant groups have sometimes fought alongside the Syrian Government in the war.

The YPG maintain that their priority is to maintain regional autonomy as part of the Syrian State, and not overthrow the Bashar al Assad regime. However, Damascus refuses to give the Kurds the level of autonomy they seek. In fact, the Government threatened Syrian Kurdish forces this year with military defeat if they do not agree to return under the authority of the State.