The YPG/PKK group and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime held talks, following the U.S. decision to withdraw from Syria, a London-based rights group claimed on Thursday.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights wrote on its website that YPG/PKK group leaders and senior officials of the Syrian regime met in Al-Hasakah’s Qamishli city near Turkish border.
In the meeting, the matters pertaining to handing over oilfields — occupied by the group — in eastern province of Deir ez-Zour to the Syrian regime, Turkey’s planned military operation east of the Euphrates River and the U.S withdrawal were discussed.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a counter-terrorism operation could begin “at any moment” east of the Euphrates River, stressing that Turkey would never allow a “terror corridor” to be established along its border.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon said the U.S. withdrawal had already begun, but added that it would continue to work with its “local partners.”
After driving Daesh from Syria’s Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor provinces last year, the U.S. has stepped up efforts to build military bases throughout the country.
The U.S. currently operates 15 bases in Al-Hasakah, Raqqa, Manbij and Deir ez-Zour, while two more are currently under construction near Deir ez-Zour’s Hajin district (close to the Al-Omar oil facility) and near Al-Hasakah’s Qamishli city.
Notably, in late November, the U.S. army fortified areas of northern Syria along the roughly 100-kilometer border with Turkey’s southern Sanliurfa province.
In its more than 30-year campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.
US troops in Syria set to return home
Separately, the U.S. media claimed on Wednesday that the country has been planning to withdraw its 2,000 troops from Syria.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next steps of this campaign,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Reports have suggested all State Department personnel would depart Syria within the next 24 hours while U.S. forces will leave within 60 to 100 days.
The withdrawal comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against the YPG/PKK group. Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.
Meanwhile, the group members held protest demonstrations against the U.S. decision in Manbij, Tal Barak and Tal Tamir towns in northeastern Al-Hasakah province and near a US base located in northeast of Raqqah.