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Kurdish-led delegation lands in Damascus, holds talks with regime

SDF holds a press conference in northern Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 July, 2018

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The talks come after Assad threatened to retake Kurdish-held areas by force.
A US-backed Kurdish-led alliance has landed in Damascus for talks with the Syrian regime, an alliance official said on Friday.

Most of Syria is under the control of either President Bashar al-Assad's forces or the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, after a series of Russian-backed victories in recent months saw Damascus retake much of the south. 

The SDF has made a series of deals with Damascus in recent years, notably in Aleppo when Assad's troops decimated Syrian Arab rebel groups making a final stand to hold the city. The SDF also came to an agreement with Assad's regime during the Turkish incursion into the then-Kurdish-held Afrin canton in Syria's north-west corner, allowing Kurdish fighters to cross regime-held territory in a doomed bid to repel Turkish troops and their allies.

The SDF delegation arriving in Damascus is on Friday discussing the future of the autonomous regions it set up in northern and northeastern Syria. It holds more than 27 percent of the country's territory, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

"A delegation from the Syrian Democratic Council is paying a first official visit to Damascus at the invitation of the government," said the council's Arab co-chair, Riad Darar.

"We hope that the discussions on the situation in the north will be positive," Darar said, adding that they were being held "without preconditions".

The SDF holds Kurdish-majority areas as well as the Arab-majority city of Raqqa, wich previously served as the de facto Syrian capital of the Islamic State group.

Earlier this month, the SDF was reportedly negotiating a handover of Raqqa to the regime, sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

The SDF's political wing said it was ready for unconditional peace talks with the central government in Damascus after Assad stated he would not hesitate to use force to retake the country from their control.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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