Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Kurds wanted Syrian army to enter Afrin, but deal failed – sources

The Syrian government reportedly rejected a request by the Kurdish self-government in Afrin to deploy troops to the area against an ongoing Turkish military operation, after the Kurds refused to lay down their weapons.

The proposed deal between Syrian authorities and Kurdish militias, who asked Damascus for military support against the Turkish invasion, derailed after Kurdish forces refused to comply with a precondition set by Damascus, an RT Arabic correspondent in Syria reported citing a military source.

After the People’s Protection Units (YPG) refused a request to hand over arms to the Syrian state, the negotiations were cut short before any deal could be reached, the source said.

Lebanese Al-Masdar News also stated that “according to reports from Aleppo,” the deal, which could potentially become a tipping point in the conflict, was called off because the Kurds refused to part with weapons they use to fend off the Turkish offensive.

Conflicting media reports, however, allege that the deal was indeed secured, but they lack any details on the conditions of the deployment.

Arab TV network Al Mayadeen reported on Thursday that it had confirmed with “exclusive field sources” that the Syrian army had agreed to move into Afrin to repel the Turkish offensive.

A source cited by Sputnik also appeared to confirm the report, saying that the Syrian troops are going to be sent to the Syrian-Turkish border “in the next few days.”

Damascus has yet to comment on the reports. On Wednesday, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad called on the Kurds and Arabs in the area of the Turkish offensive to pool their forces in the face of Turkish aggression, calling Afrin “an integral part of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

“We affirm that the Syrian Arab Army defends every inch of the Syrian territory and Syria will return as unified as it has been throughout history,” Mikdad said, as cited by SANA. However, he stopped short of elaborating if the Syrian armed forces would move to counter the offensive.

Rumors that Damascus could step into the conflict were fueled by YPG commander Sipan Hamo, who said on Monday that the Kurdish militias “don’t have a problem with the entry of the Syrian army to defend Afrin and its border in the face of the Turkish occupation.”

In January, the self-administration in the Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria had urged Damascus to dispatch its own forces to “protect its borders with Turkey from attacks of the Turkish occupier.” The self-administration noted Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch infringes on Syria’s sovereignty and reiterated the Kurds’ commitment to the country’s territorial integrity.

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