Kurds 'cut deal with Syrian regime to enter Afrin'

Kurds 'strike deal with Syrian regime to repel Turkey Afrin offensive'
2 min read
19 February, 2018
Kurdish officials have announced that Syrian regime forces will enter Afrin to help Kurdish militias repel Turkey's ongoing military offensive.
Kurdish forces have struggled to repel the Turkey-led offensive. [Getty]
Kurdish forces have announced an agreement with the Syrian regime to allow them to enter the Afrin region within two days to help repel Turkey's ongoing military offensive.

"SDF and Syria have reached an agreement," Sheikho Bilo, an official from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unity Party, told Kurdish news outlet Rudaw on Sunday.

"The agreement is to protect borders," explained Bilo, adding that the agreement only concerns military matters.
 
Colonel Fayez al-Asmar, a military analyst, told The New Arab that Kurdish forces are currently in a vulnerable state and that this deal may involve giving up weapons.
 
He explained that Kurdish units will have to accept all of the regime's conditions in order to stop the Turkish military operation, which has caused heavy casualties and damage to infrastructure in the area.

If regime forces enter the region, Kurdish units would likely withdraw to areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the city of Manbij, northeast of Aleppo.

"When it comes to the political and administrative matters in the region, it will be agreed upon with Damascus in the later stages through direct negotiations and discussions," Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria, told Reuters.

The Syrian regime has yet to respond to Kurdish calls to help protect Afrin, a YPG spokesman said.

A Kurdish political official familiar with the deal on Afrin said on Sunday that it was possible Russia would object to the agreement as complicating its own diplomatic efforts with Turkey.

The reported deal underscores the increasingly tangled battlefield in northern Syria, driven by a web of rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian regime, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States and Russia.

Long oppressed by Damascus, the Kurds have taken advantage of the conflict that began in 2011 to secure de facto autonomy over Syria's northern regions.

Kurdish authorities called in late January for the regime to intervene by sending its forces on the border with Turkey.

Damascus denounced the "aggression" by Ankara but did not react to the appeal as the Kurds rejected allowing the regime to redeploy troops in the region and reestablish state control.

Ankara launched an offensive in the Afrin area of northern Syria last month against the YPG which it considers a terror group but which is allied with US forces in the fight against IS.