Kurdish commander in talks with Russia

ROME: The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said he mistrusted both the Syrian government and Russia, but said in remarks published Saturday that he would follow “a political path” for the sake of peace.

Mazlum Abdi, also known as Kobani, told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper that future negotiations required guarantees from the international community, including Europe.

“We have no confidence, but it’s not possible to solve Syria‘s problems without using the political path. We must negotiate,” he said.

Until the United States pulled out of Syria the SDF, whose members are for the most part Kurds, enjoyed the support of a Washington-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State group.

In the current negotiations, Abdi said Russia was acting as an intermediary between his group and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We will not be party to an agreement that does not include the defence of our people and its political, administrative and cultural liberty,” he cautioned.

He said there had also been talks with the US government which had “offered guarantees but there is a certain slowness in applying these guarantees on the ground”.

He condemned the US decision to pull out of Syria, saying the move gave “the green light for the Turkish attack against our people” and violated agreements between his group and Washington.

The United States last month announced a pullout from Kurdish-held areas in northeast Syria, allowing Damascus, Ankara and Moscow to carve up the Kurds’ now-defunct autonomous region.

Asked about Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s wish to have him arrested, Abdi said “what else do you expect from a person who doesn’t hide from the world his project to massacre our people”.

Turkey and its Syrian proxies on October 9 launched a cross-border attack against Kurdish-held areas, grabbing a 120-kilometre-long (70-mile) swathe of Syrian land along the frontier.

The incursion killed hundreds and caused 300,000 people to flee their homes in the latest humanitarian disaster in Syria‘s brutal eight-year war.

Turkey and Russia then struck a deal in Sochi for more Kurdish forces to withdraw from the frontier on both sides of that Turkish-held area under the supervision of Russian and Syrian forces.

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