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Snubbed Syrian Kurds reject 'any decision' from Astana peace-talks Open in fullscreen

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Snubbed Syrian Kurds reject 'any decision' from Astana peace-talks

The Syrian-Kurdish YPG is viewed as a terrorist organisation by the Ankara government [Archive/Getty]

Date of publication: 24 January, 2017

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Syrian Kurdish groups, the YPG and SDF, have declared they will not be bound by peace talks in Astana, noting Turkey's deliberate moves to ensure their absence.
The Kurdish YPG said on Monday that it would not be bound by any decisions made during current  Syria peace talks which began in the Kazakh capital Astana on Monday, after receiving no invitation to the Russia-Turkey brokered negotiations.

"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.

"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."

Although Moscow has previously sought the presence of the YPG’s political wing, the PYD at UN-brokered negotiations in Switzerland, Turkey views both as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it classifies as a terrorist group.  

As a result Ankara sought their exclusion from Astana, along with the Kurdish-lead Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF - previously recipients of military support from the Obama administration and currently participating in advances on the Islamic State group’s de facto capital Raqqa - also expressed objections to their snub from proceedings in Kazakhstan on Monday.

"Despite the victories of our forces against IS, and despite the sacrifices we were excluded and pushed away from all the congresses that were held until now for the sake of Syrian crisis solution," read a statement released by the group.

"We the components of SDF see that excluding Kurds … is a violation of our right and sacrifices, so we would not abide by a congress’ decisions that we were not be invited to."

Washington has previously said that it has only provided arms to the SDF and not the YPG, however the relationship between the two groups has been described by analysts as ambiguous, with YPG groups seemingly signatories to the agreement that lead to the formation of the SDF in 2015.

Erdogan's government is heavily suspicious of Syrian Kurdish forces who have asserted autonomy in a number of cantons in northern Syria, raising concern in Ankara that Kurds in Turkey could similarly pursue greater civil freedoms and independence at a time of political instability in the country. 

The PKK has been accused by Ankara of being behind a number of recent terror attacks in Turkey

Negotiations in Astana are set to continue on Tuesday as Syrian regime and opposition representatives struggle to reach common ground in order to bring an end to ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

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