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Syrian Kurds hint at possible talks with Damascus amid US troops withdrawal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kurdish-led militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand in formation at a ceremony to mark their defeat of Daesh Takfiri militants in Baghouz, at al-Omar Oil Field base, Syria, on March 23, 2019. (Photo by The Associated Press)

A top Kurdish official says the Kurdish forces controlling northern Syria may open talks with Damascus and Russia, after the United States announced it was withdrawing troops from the area in the wake of Ankara’s looming military operation against Kurdish militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG).

“If America vacates the area and especially the border area for certain we, as a self administration and as the SDF, will be forced to study all the available options,” Badran Jia Kurd told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

Top Syrian Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurd (file photo)

“At that time we may hold talks with Damascus or the Russian side to fill the void or block the Turkish attack, so this may develop and there could be meetings and contacts in case of a vacuum,” he added.

A senior Syrian government official, in return, said Damascus is ready to welcome Syria's Kurds back into the fold after Washington left them to face Turkish military threats alone.

“We will defend all Syrian territory, and we will not accept any occupation of Syrian land,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the pro-government and Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper in comments published on Tuesday.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office in Damascus, Syria. (File photo)

He noted that Kurdish groups have been “tossed aside” by Washington, after US President Donald Trump on Monday gave Turkey a green light to press ahead with its long-threatened offensive.

“The nation welcomes all its children and Damascus will solve all problems in Syria in a positive manner, away from violence,” Mekdad said, vowing to take back all Syrian territory.

“We advise those who have gone astray to return to the nation, because the nation is their final destiny,” he added, urging Syria's Kurds to reconcile with the Damascus government.

Mekdad underlined that Kurdish militants in Syria were being “played” by Washington.

Turkish invasion ‘is a direct support’ to Daesh: SDF spox

Separately, the spokesman for the Kurdish-led militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Monday that a Turkish invasion into northeastern Syria would provide “direct support” to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

“We consider such a Turkish invasion as a force of occupation and a force of ethnic genocide against the components in northeast or Syria, including the Kurds. There are other ethnic minorities like the Syriacs and Assyrians, who are threatened by ethnic genocide,” Mustafa Bali said.

He added, “In addition, it is a direct support to the Daesh terrorist group, especially in the recently-liberated areas, where Daesh shall seize the opportunity of such an invasion, and it may return to impose their control over the newly-liberated areas.”

Bali warned that the US withdrawal from northeastern Syria effectively “unleashes” Turkish forces there.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Sunday that Washington had begun withdrawing US troops from Syria's border with Turkey, adding that the American forces “will not support or be involved in the (Turkish) operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Trump on Monday defended the decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria, saying it was too costly to keep supporting its allies.

“The Kurds fought with us but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on the same day that the Turkish army was ready to launch operations against SDF militants in Syria at any moment.

“There is a phrase that we always say: we can come any night without warning,” the Turkish president told reporters in televised remarks. “It is absolutely out of the question for us to further tolerate the threats from these terrorist groups.”

SDF later warned that a Turkish military invasion would spark a major resurgence of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, and vowed to battle Turkey's military.

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