Syrian Kurds open Moscow representation

Syrian Kurds open Moscow representation

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Syrian Kurds open Moscow representation

Participants pose for a picture during a ceremony opening a representative office of Kurdish groups in Syria, in Moscow, Russia, February 10, 2016. REUTERS Photo

Kurdish groups in Syria on Feb. 10 opened a representation in Moscow amid a push by the Kremlin to have them included in Syria peace talks despite Turkey’s objections.  

“This is a historical moment for the Kurdish people,” Merab Shamoyev, chairman of the International Union of Kurdish Public Associations, said at the opening ceremony for the office in an industrial neighborhood in southeast Moscow.

“Russia is a great power and an important actor in the Middle East. It is in fact not only an actor, but also it writes the script,” Shamoyev added, describing the opening of the representation as a “big political step” for Syrian Kurds.

He also stressed that those present at the ceremony had ties to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The PYD is one of the U.S.-supported groups fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northern Syria, but Turkey considers it to be an offshoot of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which it has clashed for more than 30 years.

Russia supports the inclusion of the PYD as part of the Syrian opposition at the U.N.-brokered peace talks in Geneva, while Turkey rejects the PYD’s participation at the negotiations table. 

The opening of the office in Moscow is  bound to fuel tensions in Russia’s relations with Turkey, which broke down in November 2015 after Ankara shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border.