Syria: Kurdish-led SDF and regime agree on 'decentralised state' roadmap

Syria: Kurdish-led SDF and regime agree on 'decentralised state' roadmap
In a potential breakthrough to end the Syrian war, the political arm of the SDF said it had agreed a roadmap to create a 'decentralised state' with the Assad regime.
3 min read
28 July, 2018
Bashar al-Assad has been intent on regaining all of Syria [Getty]
The political arm of the Kurdish majority and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Saturday that an agreement had been reached with Syrian regime officials in Damascus to "create a road map leading to a decentralised democratic Syrian state", signalling a potentially momentous breakthrough in the resolution of the seven-year-long crisis.

Officials belonging to the SDF, which holds large swathes of land in northern Syria, travelled to Damascus on Thursday for two days' of talks with the Assad regime over the future of the autonomous regions it set up in northern and northeastern Syria.

"At the invitation of the Syrian government, a meeting was held between a delegation of the Syrian Democratic Council [The SDF political arm] and the Syrian government in Damascus on 26th July 2018," the SDF council said in  a statement published on its website on Saturday.

"The aim of the meeting was to lay the foundations for broader and more comprehensive dialogue in order to resolve the Syrian crisis on various levels."

Read more: After Daraa, will Assad reconquer all of Syria?

It went on to say that the delegations agreed to form committees that would hold further negotiations in order to "end the violence and war that plagues the Syrian people," as well as to "create a road map leading to a decentralised democratic Syrian state".

Syrian state media has yet to report any agreement with the SDF.

Most of Syria is under the control of either President Bashar al-Assad's forces or the Kurdish-dominated SDF, after a series of Russian-backed victories in recent months saw Damascus retake much of the south. 

The SDF has made a series of deals with Damascus in recent years, notably in Aleppo when Assad's troops decimated Syrian Arab rebel groups making a final stand to hold the city.

The SDF also came to an agreement with Assad's regime during the Turkish incursion into the then-Kurdish-held Afrin canton in Syria's north-west corner, allowing Kurdish fighters to cross regime-held territory in a doomed bid to repel Turkish troops and their allies.

The SDF, whose military is largely funded by the US as a counter-IS initiative, holds more than 27 percent of the country's territory, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

Read more: Who's who in Syria?

The SDF holds Kurdish-majority areas as well as the Arab-majority city of Raqqa, which previously served as the de facto Syrian capital of the Islamic State group.

Earlier this month, the SDF was reportedly negotiating a handover of Raqqa to the regime, sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

The SDF's political wing said it was ready for unconditional peace talks with the central government in Damascus after Assad stated he would not hesitate to use force to retake the country from their control.