Assad calls US-backed YPG militants ‘traitors’
DAMASCUS - AFP
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called U.S.-backed the People’s Protection Units (YPG) “traitors” on Dec .18, ramping up the rhetoric against the forces controlling more than a quarter of the country.
“When we talk about those referred to as ‘the Kurds’, they are in fact not just Kurds. All those who work for a foreign country, mainly those under American command... are traitors,” he said.
“This is how we see these groups working for the Americans,” he said.
The Kurdish minority accounts for an estimated 15 percent of Syria’s population and the YPG controls a large chunk of territory in the country.
Both Damascus, backed by Russia, and the YPG, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, have fought Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in recent months.
But their common enemy has been defeated across much of the country now, leaving the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and regime forces in an uneasy face-off.
Some senior regime officials had in the past made overtures to the Kurds, suggesting some level of autonomy could be eventually be discussed, but Assad’s latest comments augur poorly for any future talks.
Turkey is also strictly against the U.S. cooperation with the YPG due to its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)