Unusual Syrian letter to UN accuses Kurds of terrorism, toeing line of Ankara tripartite summit

Syria’s foreign ministry claimed in a letter to the UN late on Sunday that the Kurdish-led, multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are operating in northeast Syria as per US and Israel “schemes,” and threatened to take back “every inch” of territory from what it called a “terrorist” militia group.

The ministry claimed the SDF is committing “terrorist and criminal exercises” against Syrian people in Hasakah, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo with the military, financial and political support of the US in a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and the President of the Security Council.

“This runs in line with schemes being implemented by some state agents to the USA and plotted by authorities of the Israeli occupation, neglecting UNSC resolutions that stress sovereignty and territorial unity of Syria and [the] unity of its people,” it added.

The ministry also said that the Syrian government is determined to re-take and “reconstruct” these areas.

The SDF responded to the comments later on Sunday, denying the “unfounded accusations” by Syrian government, claiming that the letter to the UN and UNSC is to “mislead world public opinion,” reported the SDF-affiliated ANHA news outlet.

It called on the regime to seek dialogue rather than commit “hostile actions.”

“We call on it [Syrian foreign ministry] once again to stop its hostile actions against our forces and the people of northeastern Syria, and reiterate our call for dialogue with the forces representing the Kurds, Arabs and all components of the northeastern region of Syria to search for real solutions to end the suffering of Syrians,” the SDF statement said.

Such severe terminology to describe the SDF is uncharacteristic of the Syrian regime, which tends to refer to the Kurdish-led forces using terms like “militia.”

However, the ministry’s letter comes a few days after Fadi Al-’Afays, the field commander of a pro-regime militia group, threatened to attack the SDF-controlled Deir ez-Zor, adding “we will not stop until Qamishli and Raqqa,” – two areas controlled by the SDF.

In an undated video, the Al-Baqir Brigade commander also called on Arab tribesmen to form forces to fight against “Kurdish leadership,” who he said are supported by the US and funded by Israel.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) – which constitutes the backbone of the SDF – has, with the exception of skirmishes in and around Qamishli, enjoyed good relations with the Syrian regime.

Regime forces did not clash with the YPG during the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, relocating its forces to other parts of Syria to fight the Free Syrian Army (FSA), nor did they battle each other during the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) which controlled swaths of Syrian territory in 2014.

Now that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have gained Iran and Russia-aided victories over Turkish-backed opposition groups in parts of northwestern Syria, some government officials have hinted before – and reiterated in Sunday’s letter – that they seek “full control” of the country.

Attempts by Kurdish officials to negotiate with the Assad regime have repeatedly stalled, including talks last summer that led to an agreement to chart a negotiation roadmap.

SDF military commander Mazlum Abdi made a renewed call for talks with the regime in late August, urging Damascus to begin negotiations with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) which governs SDF-controlled areas.

“We ask Damascus to negotiate with representatives of the Autonomous Administration [of North and East Syria or NES] and the Syrian Democratic Forces,” Abdi said in an interview with the SDF-affiliated ANHA news outlet, “on the principle of recognizing democratic self-administrations and recognizing the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people within Syria.”

The letter also follows communication between the SDF, US, and Turkey over the establishment of a safe zone on Turkish border with Syria, though Turkey has expressed discontent with its progress.