Ankara urges PYD leader to join ranks of Free Syrian Army against al-Assad
Sevil Erkuş ANKARASalih Muslim, the leader of the main Kurdish group in northern Syria, has been urged by the Turkish intelligence authorities to bring his forces under the ranks of the Free Syrian Army.
Muslim, the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), had a lengthy meeting with Turkish intelligence officials on Oct. 4 amid the ongoing jihadist siege of the Kurdish-populated city of Kobane.
During the meeting, the Kurdish leader was urged to “take an open stance against the Syrian regime” and join the ranks of the Free Syrian Army against President Bashar al-Assad, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
Turkish officials signaled a restructuring of the Syrian opposition in the upcoming period and urged the PYD to take part under the roof of the Syrian opposition. Ankara also once again reiterated its expectation for the PYD to distance itself from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the sources added.
As Muslim continues his efforts to obtain arms from Western countries for the Kurdish forces of the Popular Protection Units (YPG), the military arm of the PYD, he asked Ankara not to prevent the delivery of weapons after his request from European countries and the U.S. was refused.
As Kobane is physically cut off from Qamishlo and other regions controlled by the PYD, the Turkish border is the only path for assistance to the region.
Muslim also asked Ankara not to obstruct other Kurds in the region coming to help Syrian Kurds’ fight against ISIL, and to allow the PKK to send help to Kobane through Turkey.
Muslim’s visit came after Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş requested help from the Turkish government in the Syrian Kurds’ fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In a meeting with Demirtaş last week, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said he did not want Kobane to end up in the hands of the jihadists.
The Turkish government had earlier expressed strong concerns about the imposition of a de facto autonomous region in the north of Syria after the PKK-affiliated PYD increased its control in the area.
Muslim had talks with Turkish officials on several occasions, though the PYD did not reply positively to Turkey’s demands. Ankara thereafter kept its distance from the PYD and until the latest meeting had not even had talks with Muslim for nearly one year.