SYRIA (OBSERVATORY) — The Syrian government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are currently negotiating with Russia, hoping for a deal to halt a Turkish offensive in the north of the country, a Syrian Kurdish politician told Reuters on Sunday.
Ahmed Suleiman, a senior member of the Kurdish Progressive Democratic Party in Syria, said talks were underway at the Russian base of Hmeimim in Latakia, although a source close to the Syrian government said it was taking place in Damascus.
Suleiman did not say whether he or his party, independent of the SDF, had a role in the negotiations.
Asked about Suleiman’s remarks, Mustafa Bali, director of the SDF Media Center, said: “No comment … We have confirmed since the beginning of the invasion that we will consider all options that would spare our people ethnic cleansing.”
The source close to the Syrian government said meetings between the SDF and Damascus were held before and after the Turkish offensive.
“We hope to reach an agreement to stop the ongoing war, especially the serious and disastrous repercussions on the citizens in the east of the Euphrates,” said Suleiman, who belongs to the city of Qamishli, which is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party, one of the oldest Kurdish groups, is not part of the self-administration set up by the SDF and other Kurdish groups such as the PYD in northern Syria.
Russia is a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkish forces, backed by Syrian opposition groups, launched an offensive on Wednesday in areas in northern Syria controlled by the SDF. Ankara says it targets Kurdish fighters it accuses of being linked to an insurgency in Turkey.
The Turkish offensive began after the withdrawal of US troops, who were supporting the SDF, from part of the Syrian-Turkish border.
Earlier on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said his country was preparing to withdraw about 1,000 US troops from northern Syria after learning that Turkey planned to expand its offensive south and west.
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