Müslim: “Syrian officials’ talk of resistance against Turkish incursion a positive development”

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Asya Abdullah and Salih Müslim were elected new co-chairs of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) on 19 June at the ninth PYD Congress in the city of al-Hasakah, northeast Syria, which was attended by 700 delegates.

Müslim answered the questions of Medya News, commenting on the current situation in the region following the Turkish administration’s announcement of plans to further invade parts of northern Syria, and the Syrian foreign minister’s voicing of strong accusations against Turkey in one of the most compelling addresses made by a senior Syrian official since the beginning of the civil war.

What do you think about the recent address by the Syrian foreign minister to the Syrian parliament? It was an extraordinarily strong response to threats by Turkey to occupy further parts of Syria.

It is the first time he has talked about Turkey’s incursion and said they will stand against it. So it is a positive development. But in practice, [although] we have been saying from the beginning that we need to defend Syrian sovereignty and that we are ready to act together to protect it, they have never engaged until now. We hope that we can act together, as there are already some Syrian soldiers in ceasefire lines in Shahba and other places, and there are even Russian military police there too. They are around in the Manbij and Shahba areas, and even in Kobane and other areas, in accordance with the agreement signed by them and the Turks in 2019. But practically, while there are some links between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Russians to strengthen their presence in these locations in order to defend them, they haven’t done it yet. I think it’s the first time they’re talking about resistance against Turkish incursions and invasion, it is something new; but it’s not completely what we’ve been asking for, because it talks about the people’s resistance and not military resistance (…) What he said was positive, but not enough, really.

Is there any progress in terms of coming to an agreement with with the Syrian administration? President Bashar al-Assad is still making accusations against Kurdish forces.

They’re talking about relations we have with the Americans, though of course [what they’re saying] is not true. It’s an excuse not to sit down and discuss the problems or enter into dialogue. There’s not much change on the ground, except as I mentioned on the military side. They’re reinforcing points along the ceasefire lines (…) What Russia says is more important than what the Syrian government says.

What’s happening in Afrin? There have recently been clashes between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and armed groups supported by Turkey.

What’s happening in Afrin is a problem between all the factions there, which are all under the directive of Turkey. Turkey is supporting both sides; Ahrar al-Sham and Jabha al-Shamiya, and also Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). All these groups are tied to Turkey and act on Turkey’s orders (…) We don’t really know what Turkey wants to do. As the HTS is on terror lists, maybe they want to send a warning that if they’re weakened, the HTS will expand and take over control of all the area (…) Maybe they’re making preparations to get the HTS to fight against the Kurdish people in Shahba or in Manbij, or some other area in the future.

Has there been any reaction from the US or any member of the international coalition after the senior Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) official Farhad Shibli, aka Farhad Derik, was assassinated in a Turkish drone strike on 17 June?

There hasn’t been any official word or action from the US or Russia in response to the assassination of Farhad Derik, who was a member of the Syrian Democratic Council as well as the Autonomous Administration, maybe because he was not in direct contact with them, I mean, he was not from the Syrian Democratic Forces. He was a civilian, working in civilian institutions. Still, the Americans expressed their condolences verbally when we met, though they didn’t say anything officially.


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