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Jan 11 2019

Syrian government should take over territory controlled by U.S.-backed forces -Russian spox

Areas controlled by the U.S.-backed forces should be transferred to the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, after American troops leave the country as announced by President Donald Trump last month, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

“In this regard, establishing a dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus takes on particular significance. After all, the Kurds are an integral part of Syrian society,” Sputnik quoted Zakharova as saying during her weekly press briefing.

She also said that Moscow had the impression that Washington wanted to stay in Syria, despite Trump’s announcement.

Trump’s announcement last month that he had decided to withdraw some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria stunned allies that have joined Washington in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The U.S. decision has introduced new dilemmas for all actors of the multi-faceted Syrian war, particularly for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that forms the backbone of U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS.

Turkey has been preparing for a major offensive against areas in northeastern Syria controlled by the YPG, which Turkey sees as the Syrian branch of outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey has so far launched two previous military operations against the YPG forces in northern Syria and seized the control of areas around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and over the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin.

In an effort to ensure protection against a Turkish military operation, Syrian Kurdish leadership has stepped up talks with Damascus and Moscow, a move that was predicted by many analysts following the U.S. administration’s decision to pull out troops.

The Syrian army announced late December that it had entered Manbij, the headquarters of U.S. and Kurdish troops fighting ISIS, following the YPG’s announcement that the Syrian government should protect its borders.

Russian military police have also begun patrolling areas near Manbij, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.