A Syrian Kurdish group claims talks with the Assad regime have produced a “road map” for Kurdish autonomy.



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The Syrian Democratic Council said on Saturday that it had decided with the government to “chart a road map to a democratic and decentralized Syria”. However, the SDC gave no details and there was no supporting regime statement.

The SDC is linked to the US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which have taken much of northern and eastern Syria from the Islamic State since autumn 2015.

The regime has had tense relations with Kurdish groups as the SDF has established a Kurdish-controlled area in the Kobani and Cezire cantons. Bashar al-Assad has pledged that the regime will regain “every inch” of the country after an 88-month conflict, and pro-Assad forces have periodically clashed with the SDF, including a February battle in which hundreds of regime troops and foreign militia were slain by US airstrikes. In some cities and towns, control is divided between the two sides.

In May, Assad opened up the possibility of talks with the Kurdish factions while warning that he might resort to force. He emphasized that he regards the Kurdish administration in the north and east as “temporary structures”.

The Syrian Democratic Council said yesterday that committees will be formed “on various levels” to develop negotiations and end violence.

Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, was more cautious. He said the meeting “cannot be called negotiations” but might be “a preparation for negotiations”.

Rejecting claims that the Kurdish groups had accepted the return of regime control, he said, “There are no agreements on the ground.”

Before going to Damascus, SDC officials conferred with the chief US official for northern Syria, Brett McGurk. Washington offered no reaction on Saturday to claims about the talks.

Russia Strikes Killed Almost 3,000 Civilians in 1st Half of 2018

Airwars says Russian aristrikes killed almost 3,000 Syrian civilians between January and June.

The monitor counted up to 2,882 claimed fatalities from 662 “casualty events”, a 34% rise in killing compared to the same period in 2017.

The increase is due in part to intensive Russian attacks, breaking “de-escalation zones”, to enable pro-Assad takeovers of East Ghouta near Damascus and most opposition territory in southern Syria.

Airwars has documented 3,445 “civilian casualty events” involving the Russians since Moscow launched its essential intervention to prop up the Assad regime in September 2015. Claimed civilian fatalities range from 12,584 to 17,932.

The group said that casualties from US-led coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria fell sharply but have not yet ceased.

Between 272 and 460 civilians were killed in 71 claimed strikes from January to June, a fall of 88% over the first half of 2017, when the coalition was attacking the Islamic State in Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

Airwars assesses that between 6,375 and 9.790 civilians have been killed by coalition attacks between August 2014 and June 2018.

The coalition has only conceded 939 deaths from 237 events.