Syrian Kurdish YPG says not bound by outcome of Astana peace talks
BEIRUTThe Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), which is the military wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), said on Jan. 23 that it would not be bound by any decision that emerges from the Syria talks in Kazakhstan as it was not involved in the meetings.
Indirect talks between representatives of the Syrian government and rebel groups began on Jan. 23 in the Kazakh capital of Astana under the sponsorship of Russia, Turkey and Iran.
The talks are the first to bring government and opposition delegations together since U.N.-brokered negotiations in Geneva were suspended last year. But the YPG and PYD were not invited.
“As we are not participating in these talks, we stress that we are not bound by any decisions issued from the Astana conference,” the YPG said in a statement, Reuters reported.
“We, in the People’s Protection Units [YPG], believe the entities that are participating and that have sponsored these talks are part of the problem in Syria in the first place,” it said.
Bashar al-Assad’s ally Russia had previously backed the PYD’s presence at negotiations in Switzerland.
But Turkey, long one of the rebels’ main backers, regards both the YPG and PYD as terror organizations as it sees them as extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with which it has been in an armed conflict since the mid-1980s.
Turkey did not want the PYD and YPG to be represented in Astana.
The YPG is at the heart of a U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, and it controls swathes of the north, where residents of northern Syria have carved out self-governing regions since the start of the conflict.
Turkey and the U.S. are at odds over the designation of the PYD and YPG as even though the U.S. designates the PKK as a terror organization, it does not designate the PYD or YPG as terror organizations and sees these groups as “reliable” partners in their fight against ISIL in Syria.
The YPG said the solution for the Syrian conflict, which has raged on into its sixth year, would be “through democratic autonomous zones that preserve the unity of the Syrian land and that we are applying on the ground.”
The warring sides “could benefit from this experience that we have established,” it said.
In its ongoing Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria, Turkey has aimed to clear its southern border of terror organizations, which include ISIL and the YPG. As such, it has clashed against forces backed by Syrian Kurds in the region.