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Syrian Democratic Council Ready for 'unconditional Talks' With Assad Regime

The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), a Kurdish-Arab alliance and political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), announced on Sunday it is ready for peace talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

In a statement, the SDC said is wants to resolve the deadly conflict in Syria, now in its eight year, through dialogue and would not "hesitate to agree to unconditional talks" with the Syrian government, as reported by AFP.

Hekmat Habib, head of the SDC, told AFP both the council and the SDF "are serious about opening a door to dialogue" with the Syrian regime.

"With the SDF's control of 30 percent of Syria, and the regime's control of swathes of the country, these are the only two forces who can sit at the negotiating table and formulate a solution to the Syrian crisis," he said.

Kurdish authorities hope to avoid military confrontation and attempt a rapprochement with the Syrian regime.

In an interview with the Kremlin-backed Russia Today (RT) network last month, President Assad said the SDF is "the only problem left in Syria" and threatened to use force if negotiations over Syrian territory proved unsuccessful.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said the regime is holding informal talks with the Kurds, but negotiations have not officially started. Details have not been shared by either side.

The conflict in Syria began after mass protests in March 2011 escalated into a full scale civil war between pro-Syrian regime forces and rebel factions.

The rise of ISIS across Iraq and Syria in 2014 further complicated the situation, causing regional and global powers to be drawn into the conflict.

Kurds in Syria's northern provinces carved out their own autonomous region of Rojava. They have generally maintained an uneasy truce with Assad over the course of the war.

The US-led anti-ISIS coalition has been working with the SDF to oust the terror group.

Turkey has been a main backer of opposition groups trying to remove Assad from power, while Russia and Iran have been among his main allies.

However, Turkey, Iran and Russia have teamed up to help mediate a peace settlement to end the conflict.

They have failed to negotiate a lasting ceasefire through several rounds of peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana, which officially began in December 2016. United Nations-led talks in Geneva have also failed to end the conflict.

SDC chief Habib told AFP all non-Syrian military forces should leave the war-torn country, including roughly 2,000 US troops.

"We are looking forward, in the next phase, to the departure of all military forces from Syria and the return to Syrian-Syrian dialogue," he added.

More than half a million people have been killed over the course of the war, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Around half of all Syrians have been displaced at one time or another, sparking the worst refugee crisis since World War II.


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