Syria's Kurds to boycott Sochi conference following Turkey assault on Afrin

Syria's Kurds to boycott Sochi conference following Turkey assault on Afrin
Syrian-Kurdish delegates have cancelled plans to attend Russian sponsored peace talks in Sochi, after a Turkish-led assault on the YPG-held town of Afrin.
2 min read
28 January, 2018
Sochi talks are being led by Turkey, Russia and Iran [Anadolu]

Syrian-Kurdish officials will boycott Russian-sponsored talks on the country's ongoing war in Sochi, due to a Turkish military offensive on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

"We said before that if the situation remained the same in Afrin we could not attend Sochi," regional official Fawza al-Yussef said.

Turkey is one of three sponsors of the talks at the Russian Black Sea resort due to take place Monday and Tuesday.

Rebel-backer Turkey will hold the talks along with Damascus' allies Russia and Iran.

Turkey's military offensive in Afrin "contradicts the principle of political dialogue", Yussef said.

Turkey, backed by Syrian rebels, launched Operation Olive Branch 20 January against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in Afrin.

Ankara believes the YPG is tied to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is proscribed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

The Sochi tales are also being boycotted by Syria's main opposition group, the Syrian Negotiation Commission.

Critics accuse the Sochi talks of being an attempt by Syrian regime allies - Russia and Iran - of weakening the Western-backed UN Geneva talks, which take a harder line on the future of Bashar al-Assad.

More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war began in 2011.

It began when peaceful anti-government protests were brutally suppressed, but has since erupted into a civil war.