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SDC Ready for 'Unconditional Talks' with Syria Regime

SDC Ready for 'Unconditional Talks' with Syria Regime

Monday, 11 June, 2018 - 06:30
A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20km north of Raqqa on February 8, 2017. Photo: AFP / Delil Souleiman

The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political arm of a powerful alliance of Syrian Kurd and Arab fighters, announced Sunday it was ready for unconditional peace talks with Damascus around two weeks after the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, warned he could use force against them if he was not able to take their territory through talks.

The SDC is linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed militia that holds much of the country's north and east.

Those areas are outside regime control, and most are managed by autonomous Kurdish-run administrations that the regime sees as a challenge to its authority.

In a statement on Sunday, the SDC said it was committed to resolving Syria's deadly conflict through dialogue, and would not "hesitate to agree to unconditional talks".

"It is positive to see comments about a summit for Syrians, to pave the way to start a new page," it said.

Leading SDC member Hekmat Habib told AFP that both the council and the SDF "are serious about opening the door to dialogue" with the regime.

"With the SDF's control of 30 percent of Syria, and the regime's control of swathes of the country, these are the only two forces who can sit at the negotiating table and formulate a solution to the Syrian crisis," he said.

Last month, Assad warned Kurdish forces he could use force against them, if he was not able to take their territory through talks.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem subsequently said the regime was informally talking to the Kurds but that negotiations had not yet started.

Residents in SDF territory have expressed fear that an eventual US withdrawal could cost them their biggest ally and weaken their hand.

But Habib said he expected all non-Syrian forces to leave including the Americans.

"We are looking forward, in the next phase, to the departure of all military forces from Syria and the return to Syrian-Syrian dialogue," he told AFP. 

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