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Syrian Kurdish officials back long-term US role in Syria

The SDF emerged as a major partner of the US in driving out IS. [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 November, 2017

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Syrian Kurdish officials on Wednesday voiced support for a long-term US role in Syria once IS has been defeated.
Syrian Kurdish officials on Wednesday voiced support for a long-term US role in Syria once the Islamic State has been defeated after the US said it would not pull out before a political solution is in place.

Late on Monday, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis voiced strong support for the peace process, vowing that the coalition Washington has led against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq would remain committed to the search for a lasting political solution.

"We are going to make sure we set the conditions for a diplomatic solution", Mattis told reporters.

"We're not just going to walk away right now until the Geneva process has traction". 

While the comments drew the ire of the Iranian-backed Syrian regime, Syrian-Kurdish groups welcomed the remarks.

"Without achieving a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and with the continuation of the Turkish and Iranian intervention in Syria, and with the continued presence of al Qaeda groups in Syria, the continued operation of the coalition is better", Shahoz Hasan, co-chief of the main Syrian Kurdish political party the PYD, told Reuters.

Senior Syrian Kurdish politician Fawza Youssef also said a US role would be very important for the future of the country.

"The United States and the coalition forces played a major role in fighting Daesh, and to reach a fair political settlement, we see a need for international guarantees", said Youssef, a senior member of the Kurdish-led authority in northern Syria.

She pointed to an increase in humanitarian aid to northern Syria by Washington since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured Raqqa as a sign of a widening US role in the country.

The SDF – a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters – emerged as a major partner of the US in driving out IS from large swathes of territory in Syria.

The US-led coalition has repeatedly said it does not seek to fight Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad's military, and US-backed forces have mostly avoided direct confrontation with the Syrian regime.

But Iranian and Syrian officials have signalled their intention to take back areas captured from IS by the SDF.

Kurdish-led authorities in parts of northern Syria are already moving ahead with plans to establish a federal system in areas they control, kicking off a three-phase election process in September in Kurdish majority regions.

The plans for autonomous zones in northern Syria have encountered broad opposition from the United States, neighbouring Turkey, and the Syrian government in Damascus.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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