We will eventually assert control over PYD-held areas, Assad regime says

DAILY SABAH WITH REUTERS
ISTANBUL
Published 08.08.2017 00:00

A senior official of the Bashar Assad regime on Sunday dismissed as a "joke" plans by the administration of the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria to hold elections and said they would not be allowed to threaten the country's territorial unity.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the Assad regime must eventually assert control over Kurdish-led areas, which until now Damascus has tolerated in an uneasy relationship.

"[The elections] will be a joke. Syria will never ever allow any part of its territory to be separated," Mekdad said in Damascus in an interview with Reuters and the BBC.

Syria's multi-sided conflict has turned the country into a patchwork of areas controlled by the Assad regime, various rebel groups, Daesh militants and PYD-led groups.

The U.S. has supported the PYD and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia along with several other Arab militia groups under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Washington continues to provide those groups with arms and equipment despite strong objections from Ankara, which views the PYD and YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has waged a deadly, 30-year campaign against the Turkish state.

At the end of July, the PYD-led administration in northern Syria set dates between late summer and January for local council and regional assembly elections in a move apparently aimed at consolidating its growing autonomy.

PYD-led groups have carved out self-governing regions since early in the six-year conflict and say they are not seeking independence from Damascus.

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