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No special treatment for Kurdish north-east, vows Syrian minister

Kurds control the largest part of Syrian territory aside from that under regime control [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 September, 2018

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Syria's reconciliation minister has vowed that the Kurdish-led administration in the northeast will be re-incorporated into the Syrian state, as the Kurds scramble to protect their hard-won autonomy.
The Kurdish-led northeast region of Syria will not be granted any special autonomy arrangement in a potential peace deal, a minister for the regime said on Tuesday.

"We cannot give any Syrian province something which differentiates it from other provinces or ethnicities, or (allow it) any situation which strikes at the idea that Syria is one country and one society," Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar told Russia’s Arabic-language Sputnik news agency.

"The solution to the problem now is for the Kurdish groups dealing with America to turn their backs on this and turn to the Syrian state," Haidar said.

The announcement seems to go against statements made by the Kurds in the wake of negotiations with the regime in August, which said an agreement was reached to create a decentralised democratic Syrian state.

The Kurdish-dominated administration in Syria's northeast controls more territory than any other group in the country aside from the regime itself.

Read more: Assad can't put the Syrian-Kurdish genie back in the bottle

The Kurds, whose US-backed forces played a key role in ousting the Islamic State group from Syria, have refrained from any direct conflict with regime forces during the seven-year-long conflict. However they have always been vocal in their desire for autonomy in a decentralised state.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad, with help from Russian and Iran backers, now controls nearly two-thirds of Syria and Assad has repeatedly asserted he plans to take back "every inch" of Syria, including the Kurdish-held territory.

Recognising their weakened position and wary of the US' unpredictability as an ally, Kurdish leaders and their supporters opened talks with Damascus in July, in an attempt to salvage what they can of the institutions they painstakingly built over the years.

"We are trying to preserve everything we built in terms of the autonomous system, the institutions, the democracy," leading Kurdish figure Saleh Muslim told AFP last month. 

"But there's a mentality that won't accept this right away, so it has to happen gradually," Muslim added. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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