Syrian Kurds to Russia: We are ready for dialogue with Damascus  

Logo of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria

SULAILAMNI (ESTA) — Syrian Kurds said on Sunday the Kurdish autonomous administration is ready to hold dialogue with Damascus, in response to a request by the Russian foreign minister.

On Friday, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was ready to facilitate dialogue between Damascus and the Syrian Kurds.

“We are ready to encourage contacts and consultations but the sides need to have coherent positions,” Lavrov said.

The Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria (AANES) responded to Lavrov’s call in a statement on Sunday, saying it was ready to work with Damascus to resolve issues through dialogue.

“But the main issue in the current process is that the government of Damascus does not accept the changes and does not modify its mentality,” the AANES’ department of relations said.

“The Damascus government does not seriously consider any dialogue, not only with the Autonomous Administration but also with other parties in Syria,” it added.

The Kurdish authorities further said they considered Russia’s mediator role positive and that practical results could develop in the context.

“We reiterate that we are ready for dialogue with the government of Damascus, on the condition that it takes into account the costs we have paid in the fight against terrorism in order to protect Syrian lands and our regions,” it said.

Lavrov hoped on Friday the Kurds who are interested in normalizing relations with Damascus understand the provocative nature.

“Throughout the entire period of the crisis, especially after our military contingent was dispatched to Syria at the request of the legitimate government, we have been encouraging, even through our contacts on the ground, direct relations between Kurdish representatives and Damascus so that they could begin talks on how to live together in their country,” Lavrov said.

Unlike the insurgent groups that have fought Assad across much of Syria, the main Syrian Kurdish groups are not hostile to him and say their objective is to preserve autonomy within the state.

But Damascus opposes the level of autonomy they seek. The government had threatened the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces with military defeat if they did not agree to a return of state authority.

The presence of U.S. forces has provided the Kurdish-led region with a de facto security umbrella that has shielded it from Assad and neighboring Turkey, which views the main Syrian Kurdish groups as a security threat.

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