SDF/YPG leaders to visit Paris over US pullout from Syria

DAILY SABAH WITH AFP
ISTANBUL
Published 20.12.2018 19:40
Updated 20.12.2018 20:18
In this file photo taken on Dece. 15, 2018, U.S. army vehicles supporting terrorist Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are viewed in Hajin, in the Deir el-Zour province, eastern Syria. (AFP Photo)
In this file photo taken on Dece. 15, 2018, U.S. army vehicles supporting terrorist Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are viewed in Hajin, in the Deir el-Zour province, eastern Syria. (AFP Photo)

Two leaders of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will visit Paris on Friday to discuss U.S. pullout from Syria, AFP said Thursday, citing sources within the terrorist groups.

"The two co-chairs of the Syrian Democratic Council (MSD) Riad Darar and Ilham Ahmed are expected in Paris," said Khaled Issa, referring to the political arm of the U.S.-backed SDF, which is dominated by the YPG.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office confirmed that the SDF representatives would hold talks in Paris, though it was not immediately known at what level.

In March, Macron met with leaders of the SDF and YPG and expressed support for them in northern Syria, pledging to send troops to Manbij, much to the dismay of Ankara, which views the terrorist groups' presence near its southern border a grave security threat.

On Wednesday, Washington announced it will be withdrawing all of its troops from Syria, following a conversation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump over an imminent Turkish cross-border operation to eliminate YPG from northern Syria.

It has been reported that the U.S. still has about 2,000 troops in Syria, many of whom are working in close cooperation with SDF.

The time frame for U.S troop pullout from the country is expected to be between 60 to 100 days, according to a U.S. official.

Almost all the territory in the east of the Euphrates River comprising some one-third of the territory of Syria, except for the Assad regime-controlled area near Deir el-Zour and the Daesh-held area near the Iraqi border, is controlled by the SDF. The SDF also controls the districts of Manbij and Tabqah on the right bank of the river.

Due to the group's links with the PKK, Ankara has called the YPG-held areas a "terror corridor" and said repeatedly it will not allow the region to turn into an autonomous region administered by the terrorist group.

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