Syrian army begins to move troops to ‘confront’ Turkey: state media


AMMAN: The Syrian army has begun deploying its troops to northern Syria battlefronts to “confront a Turkish aggression” on Syrian territory, state media said on Sunday.

State media did not say where Syrian army troops were deploying in northern Syria, where a Turkish military offensive with the help of Syrian opposition forces has seized border territory from Kurdish militia.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been holding negotiations with Russian participation, a Syrian Kurdish politician said on Sunday, expressing hope for a deal that would halt a Turkish attack.

Ahmed Suleiman, a senior member of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, said the talks were being held at Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Latakia, although a source close to the Syrian government said they were taking place in Damascus.

Suleiman did not say if he or his party – which is independent from the SDF – had a role in the process.

The head of the SDF media office, Mustafa Bali, said he had “no comment” when asked about Suleiman’s remarks. “We have confirmed from the start of the (Turkish) invasion that we will study all options that could spare our people ethnic cleansing,” he said.

The source close to the Syrian government said meetings between the SDF and Damascus had taken place before and after the latest Turkish offensive.

Suleiman, who is from the city of Qamishli in a part of Syria held by the SDF, said he hoped for a deal.

“We are now in Damascus, this is what I can say at present. We hope an agreement is reached that halts the war and its dangerous and catastrophic consequences on the citizens east of the Euphrates”, he told Reuters via Whatsapp messenger.

His party, one of Syria’s oldest Kurdish groups, is not involved in the autonomous administration set up by the SDF and other Kurdish groups such as the PYD party in northern Syria.

Russia is President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally.