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Tehran Pressures Syrian Regime into a Kurdish Standoff

Tehran Pressures Syrian Regime into a Kurdish Standoff

Thursday, 21 December, 2017 - 11:15
SDF forces in Syria. PHOTO: Asharq Al-Awsat

Tehran continues its pressure on the Syrian regime in Damascus to go into a military confrontation with the Washington-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a largely Kurdish group, Kurdish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Sources cited the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Miqdad labeling the SDF, in an interview with an Iranian television, a terrorist organization.

Iran has sided with the Syrian regime in the six-year civil war and is at odds with Kurdish people seeking to cement autonomous rule in areas under their control.

For their part, the Kurdish People's Protection Units stepped up patrols in areas in eastern and northern Syria and reinforced their points with additional troops, fearing moves by Arab tribesmen who rejected the Kurds' dominance after the regime ordered them to do so.

Regime head Bashar al-Assad labeled the SDF, backed by the US-led coalition, as "traitors" which later provoked a response in which Kurdish leaders called Assad a "terrorist."

Sources pointed out that the regime began to open channels of communication with Arab tribes in the country’s east, inciting them to rebel against Kurdish "units".

On the other hand, the eighth round of consultations in Astana on the Syrian crisis is currently underway.

The talks held in Kazakhstan’s capital kicked off with the participation of UN special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura and representatives from both the United States and Jordan.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said that the delegations of guarantor states had confirmed their participation in the current round of consultations.

Sources predicted that Astana 8 would shift from focusing on military concerned topics, which had been the main theme of the Astana process since its start, to issues such as political settlement.

It is expected that the Syrian National Dialogue Conference which took place in Sochi will be a highlight in Astana.

Kazakhstan is hosting negotiations that aim to end the Syria crisis. Discussions in the past few months have focused on establishing de-escalation zones in Syria.

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