Apr 18, 2019 12:28 UTC
  • Damascus should take control over northeast Syria: Russian FM

Russia says the legitimate Syrian government should immediately take control over the country’s northeastern region, including the East Euphrates River, which is held by US-backed Kurdish militants.

“There is a need to resolve the issue concerning the country’s northeast and the left bank of the Euphrates River in order to achieve one of the priority tasks and ensure the restoration of the legitimate government’s control over the region,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The top Russian diplomat underlined the need to build dialog with Kurdish groups and secure the interests of Turkey “as far as security in Syria’s border areas is concerned.”

Northeastern Syria is currently controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus alliance of mainly Kurdish militants, which include the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The United States is a key advocate of autonomy for Syrian Kurds which Damascus has roundly rejected.

Many observers believe Washington plans to carve out a foothold in the region through supporting Syrian Kurds.

In February, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flatly rejected the idea of giving Syrian Kurds a measure of autonomy, saying such a move would open the door to the partition of the country.

The Kurdish-led authority that runs much of north and east Syria has presented a roadmap for a deal with Assad in recent meetings with Russia.

Also in February, President Assad called on SDF militants to return to the Syrian army, warning them against reliance on the United States.

“We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you. The Americans will put you in their pockets so you can be tools in the barter, and they have started with it," he said.

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