Assad regime says Syrian Kurdish autonomy negotiable
The Assad regime is open to negotiations with Kurds over giving them some form of self-rule in Syria once Islamic State is defeated, according to the Syrian foreign minister.
"This topic is open to negotiation and discussion and when we are done eliminating Daesh (IS), we can sit with our Kurdish sons and reach an understanding on a formula for the future," Walid Moallem said in remarks carried by state news agency SANA, citing an interview with Russia Today.
The remarks come as Kurds in Iraq voted on separating from Iraq Monday, amid military tensions between Syrian regime forces and their allies, and US-backed Kurdish factions in eastern Syria.
According to Reuters, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia controls a swathe of northern Syria where the main Kurdish party, the PYD, and its allies have established autonomy since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.
Syrian Kurds say their aim is to preserve that autonomy as part of a decentralised Syria, and they do not aim to follow the path of Kurds in Iraq.
Moallem said his government's rejected the referendum in Iraq but he noted that Syria's Kurds "want a form of autonomy within the borders of the Syrian Arab Republic".
Kurdish-led authorities in northern Syria held elections last week to choose local community leaders, the first stage of a three-phase process that will culminate in January with the election of a parliament.
The YPG has been a major partner for the US-led coalition against Daesh in eastern and northern Syria, fighting as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance (SDF).
While the YPG and Damascus have mostly avoided confrontation, tensions have flared as the US-backed SDF and the Russian-backed Syrian army wage separate campaigns against Daesh in Deir az-Zour province.
The SDF accused the Syrian government and its Russian ally of striking its fighters on Monday, something Moscow denied.
Earlier this year, Moallem characterised the Syrian Kurdish battle against IS as legitimate and suggested an accommodation could be reached with the Syrian Kurds.